Logan • Preseason awards generally don’t mean much.
But as the honors were being handed out last summer, they meant something to Utah State cornerback Jalen Davis. That’s because when the All-Mountain West preseason team was announced in July, the Aggie senior wasn’t on it.
“There were some guys on my team that saw that,” Utah State Matt Wells said, “and used it as internal motivation.”
But there can be no overlooking Davis now. Forget the Mountain West. The cornerback who could only get one Division I college to offer him a scholarship out of high school, is now an All-American.
“I’ve always had All-American in my goals since I’ve been here,” Davis said. “I just finally achieved it this year.”
Utah State vs. New Mexico State
When • Friday, 3:30 p.m. MST
TV • CBS Sports Network
As the Aggies prepare for Friday’s Arizona Bowl meeting with New Mexico State, Davis is hoping to add one more win — and perhaps another interception or two — to the end of a special career at Utah State. But by being named a Walter Camp Football Foundation First-Team All-American earlier this month, becoming just the second Aggie to ever earn the honor, Davis has certainly cemented his legacy in Logan.
Wells already knows how much he will miss having Davis patrol the defensive backfield next season, as he’s done as a starter since Utah State traveled to Tennessee for the first week of Davis’ freshman season.
“I remember calling his dad the third week of August and saying `Verdis, you need to buy a plane ticket to Knoxville.′ And he said, `Is he going to play?′ I said, `Yeah, the first snap,’” Wells recalled.
The coach also remembers Davis getting burned on a bubble screen on the game’s first play.
“He’ll be fine,” then defensive coordinator Todd Orlando told Wells at the time. “He’s going to be OK, coach.”
Sneaking something past Davis now is a difficult task. The cornerback led the Mountain West and was seventh nationally with five interceptions this year. He was eighth nationally in passes defended, breaking up 18 on the year.
“The guy doesn’t miss practice,” Wells said. “He doesn’t miss games. He’s tough. He’s a football junkie. He watches so much tape in there.”
But even after three successful years as a starter, something was missing from Davis’ resume. It was a big dream that the 5-foot-10 defensive back kept mostly quiet, only ever telling his position coach, Julius Brown, about his ambition before this season.
“I told him I want to be All-American and he pushed me to be that,” Davis said. “Every day in practice, he made sure I was on my A-game, made sure I was doing everything I need to do to become an All-American, so I’d like to thank him for that.”
In his final collegiate game, Davis figures to be busy, as he tries to defend New Mexico State’s Jaleel Scott and a pass-heavy attack.
“It’ll be a great game,” he said. “They love throwing the ball, and I love defending passes. So I can’t wait to go out there and compete against them.”
But as he prepares for one last game and then a shot at the NFL, the cornerback has made sure everyone has taken notice.
“I’m just blessed that Utah State gave me the opportunity to come here,” Davis said. “I always knew what I was capable of, what I can do on the football field, so that’s all I needed was a chance to show my abilities and show what I can do and Utah State gave me that chance. I just made plays and did everything for them.”
Utah State cornerback
Class • Senior
Hometown • La Mesa, Calif.
Measurements • 5-foot-10, 185 pounds
2017 stats • 5 interceptions, 18 passes defended
Need to know • Coming out of Helix High, the school that produced Reggie Bush and Alex Smith, Davis’ only Division I offer came from Utah State.