Davis: Team Comes First, Rushing Record Comes Second


by - Senior Writer -
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Clemson is 13-1 when Davis rushes for 100 yards or more.

CLEMSON -- Spend a little time with James Davis, and you get the feeling that no matter what happens in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day, this is a player that is comfortable, aware, and happy with his place in Clemson football history.

In fact, Davis could get no clearer picture of how Clemson fans feel about him than when he stood in the East end zone at the end of the South Carolina game a few weeks ago – the drizzle was falling, the lights were on, and Davis stood on the goal line as the clock wound down on the game, and in many ways, his career.

The crowd was chanting his name, and Davis took the time to blow exaggerated kisses back at the stadium seats, soaking in his moment, forever frozen in time as he said goodbye in his own special way to Death Valley. From now on, when I think of Davis that will be one of the moments I think of – along with countless big plays, including those first exciting runs in his first game against Texas A&M four years ago.

Davis walked off the practice field recently, a little more slowly than usual, perhaps taking in these final precious moments in Tigertown before he embarks on a professional career, and talked about his place in Clemson history, and the bowl game that might allow him to reach milestones that will forever cement his name in the record books.

He enters the contest needing 112 yards to be Clemson's all-time leading rusher. Davis has 3855 yards, with only Raymond Priester's 3966 yards in front of him. Also, if Davis were to break the record against the Huskers, it would be his 15th career 100-yard game, tying him with Priester for most all-time in Clemson history. And, Clemson is 13-1 when he cracks the century mark, so here is hoping all the records get shattered.

Davis, however, says if the Tigers win and he falls short of the records, there will be no regret on his part.

"The record (rushing record) is great, but when you look at it, the win is more important," Davis said. "I want the record, because of what it means to me, but I really want that win because of what it means to the team, to get that eighth win. A lot of people have been telling me that they want me to get the record, but eight wins is better to me. It has to be about the team."

And you know Davis is not just saying what people want to hear when he mentions team – this is a player that decided to come back for his senior season, stayed true during adversity, and even when backfield mate C.J. Spiller was getting the headlines, Davis walked the team line.

Other players could have sulked or pouted, but Davis went to work every day, supported Spiller and his emergence, and then played his heart out when on the field. A lesser player might have folded or called it a season, but there was Davis, getting the tough yards against Virginia on the last drive, mashing between the tackles at Boston College, and then scoring those important touchdowns against the Gamecocks.

Davis said that since that South Carolina game, however, there has been no shortage of love from Clemson fans, and he appreciates all of it.

"I have been getting all kinds of messages, people saying 'thank you for everything, for everything you have done for Clemson' and been getting all kinds of emails. It has been amazing. The fans here at Clemson have been great. The fans, they are what drives everything around here."

Davis said that he used the break before last week to go home, and then spent some time with family and friends, including C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, but was happy to get back work for the bowl game and the date with the Huskers, a matchup he is looking forward to, record or no record.

"I am looking forward to getting down there (Florida), with the good weather," Davis said. "Of course, my family is there, and we'll have Christmas, then join the team in Jacksonville, so it all works out perfect. As far as Nebraska, I've been watching film of them and they are pretty strong.

"We just have to execute and do what we have been doing. Be physical at the point of attack. They are a very aggressive, and maybe we can take advantage of that. They have a good offense, and can score a lot of points, so we just need to try and match their intensity and score points as well."

With that said, Davis waved to more Clemson fans, and then began the slow walk to change out of the uniform for one of the last times, perhaps pondering his place at Clemson, and perhaps pondering his future. Either way, they had to be good thoughts.

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