By Gabriel Stovall
McDONOUGH, Ga. — Shawn Davis would’ve called you crazy if you would’ve told him three years ago he’d be stepping onto the campus of a Power Five Division I school to extend his football career.
At least that’s what the recent Georgia Tech signee from Union Grove would’ve told JV soccer coach Kevin Roberts if he could’ve peered into Davis’ future to give him a glimpse of what was to come.
“If (Coach Roberts) would’ve told me I’d be here right now, I’d have thought he was completely insane,” Davis said.
That’s because when Davis began his football career during the 2012 season, he did so on a whim and a request from Roberts, a former Union Grove and Tennessee Tech kicker himself.
It was during Davis’ freshman year. Then, he simply had aspirations of working his way up to the varsity soccer squad as soon as possible, until Roberts came to him with an interesting proposition.
“Coach Roberts took three of us and told us that we all needed to give kicking on the football team a shot,” Davis said. “So we all kicked for Coach Brown the special teams coach one day, and he said all three of us looked pretty good, and if we wanted to continue, show up at spring practice.”
Guess who was the only one to show up.
That year, Davis said, was the highlight of his high school football career. It was also the high water mark of former coach Paul Burgdorf’s tenure. The Wolverines went 10-2 and came close to knocking off a highly regarded Ware County squad on its home field in the playoffs.
Next thing you know, Davis was conjuring up enough trust in his coaches to where they were trotting him out for 54-yard field goal attempts.
“It was against Eagle’s Landing during the first game (of the 2014 season),” Davis said. “At first, I thought I had hit it a little thin, but then my holder was screaming, like, ‘No, it’s good! You’ve got it! You’ve got it.’ And when it hit the cross bar, I was in disbelief.”
Put about a five mile-an-hour wind at his back, and it would’ve been good. Although he missed that attempt, Davis said the 50-yarder he drilled against Mundy’s Mill in a driving rain made up for it. So too did beating Luella.
“I don’t know, there were just a lot of great moments this season,” Davis said. “Beating Luella this year was great because at that point in the season, people were pretty down on us, and I think they just beat Stockbridge. That was probably the most fun we had this year.”
And the most relief Davis had was this past Wednesday when he finally put the stress of being recruited and choosing a college behind him.
Davis chose the Yellow Jackets over offers from Air Force, Wofford and a preferred walk-on offer from Georgia Southern.
In the end, he chose an emerging Tech program because of the consistency of how they came after him — a huge deal considering how tough it is for kickers and punters to find places willing to spend a scholarship offer of any kind to get one.
“Your options are limited,” Davis said. “Most schools only take one kicker every three to four years. So you have to look at the schools who have junior or senior kickers. Those are really the only ones you can truly look at.”
Davis said Georgia Tech started its recruitment of him last February, and it was his performance at one of Tech’s summer camps — a place where “40 to 50 kickers were fighting for one spot” that Davis seemed to cement his status as a must-have for the Jackets.
“Their special teams coach told me right away that I was the one they wanted to have,” Davis said.
So he accepted a preferred walk-on offer from the 2014 ACC runners-up and couldn’t be more excited about it, especially given the program’s current trajectory.
“This year was the first time I really paid big time attention to Georgia Tech,” he said. “This season was huge from their standards, getting to the Orange Bowl and coming just two points away from beating the defending national champion. They’re quarterback is returning and a lot of great players are returning, so it’s going to be great to see how it all works in the next few years.”
In his senior season, Davis connected on 10 of 16 field goals, with that career long of 40. He also carried a 40-yard per punt average, and 25 of his 30 kickoffs sailed through the end zone as touchbacks.
Good stuff for a high schooler, but Davis wants more.
“The No. 1 thing I focus on now is getting more consistent with everything, how I kick,” he said. Getting everything to be the same every time to make my field goals more consistent. I’m in the weight room right now working with the rising seniors three to four times a week. I’m out on the field three or four times a week working on my routine.
“I want to make it so that when I get into crucial game situations it’ll be just like practice.”