Davis Planning To Stay Long Enough To Get Degree

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CLEMSON --- Clemson running back James Davis doesn?t come from the type of family that considers gaining a college degree a priority. It isn?t that his family doesn?t want any college graduates, it?s just many of them can?t afford to go to college.

When Davis signed onto play for Clemson coach Tommy Bowden in February of 2005, his mother was adamant about him finishing college. With his junior season approaching, Davis made it pretty clear after Wednesday?s practice that he will have to be an extremely high draft selection in April of 2008 in order for him to forgo his senior season.

?I would probably be the first one in my family to graduate from college and Gaines Adams was the same way,? he said. ?Right now coming back is what I?m leaning to do.

?The only way I will come out right now is if I?m projected in the top 10.

?That would be my goal. That?s what me and the coaches talked about and if it is not the top 10 then I will still be here.?

Davis credits Adams, who is projected as a consensus top 10 selection at defensive end in next month?s NFL Draft, as being very influential in what future decisions he makes. After being projected as a late first to second round pick after his junior season, Adams returned to Clemson last fall where he set the school?s all-time sack record, while increasing his stock in the draft at the same time.

?I have been looking at Gaines Adams and I think he was projected around first or second round after his junior year and he made a good decision by staying his senior year,? Davis said. ?Right now I think there is a lot of talent at running back going into this year, but my mom wants me to graduate and that?s what my family wants.?

This year, Davis just wants to be a team leader. Ever since practice began two weeks ago, Bowden has praised Davis? attitude and the enthusiasm he has displayed while becoming the vocal leader of the offense.

?Not everybody is a vocal leader, but you do need some vocal leaders,? Bowden said. ?Most of those guys on the offensive line are quiet guys and you do need someone who is vocal. This is a game that has a lot of emotions and it is a loud sport.

?There are sports like tennis and golf where they put their hands up and tell people to be quiet. It?s not like that in football. It is a game of enthusiasm and emotion and you yell at people here and there. It is loud at times and you need people who can yell and James can be loud at times in a good way.?

After rushing for nearly 1,100 yards and 17 touchdowns through the first eight games of 2006, Davis hit a wall and subsequently so did the rest of the team as Clemson lost four of its final five games to close the year.

Davis played all five of those games with an injured shoulder, but he said he can?t blame that for his lack of production.

?I knew my team needed me so I just did the best that I could,? he said. ?It affected me some, but you know me I?m the type of guy that can?t blame it on an injury. I played with a cast on (as a freshman) and I didn?t let that affect me so I can?t blame it on the injury.

?Other teams prepared well for me.?

Davis said he has spent much of the first part of the spring attempting to bring back the energy and the enthusiasm the Tigers had during their 7-1 run to start 2006 to the practice field.

?I think we have to have a little more enthusiasm at the beginning and the end of the year,? he said. ?Those last couple of games at the end of the year we kind of had our heads down, especially after the Virginia Tech game. You can just blame it on that, I think we have to have a little more enthusiasm on the field and that will help us out a lot.?

- West Virginia football coach Rich Rodriguez will be in Clemson today to visit with Bowden and to take a look at Vickery Hall. Rodriguez, who was Clemson?s offensive coordinator under Bowden from 1999-2000, is hoping West Virginia can build something similar for the Mountaineers.

?He wanted to see the best there is,? Bowden said.

With Rodriguez in town and the Clemson basketball team playing the Mountaineers in the NIT Finals tonight, Bowden, who like Rodriguez is a West Virginia grad, say the two have a friendly and perfectly legal wager on the outcome.

?It is my alma mater, but I will go with the pay check though,? Bowden said about who he is pulling for. ?My check is from here that?s a no brainier.?

Clemson will practice again on Friday before scrimmaging in Death Valley on Saturday.

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