USC Football’s Dominic Davis was named one of the Top 5 fastest players in college football, so how can the Trojans get the most out of the speedy running back?
Of all the names from USC Football to get attention this offseason, few would have predicted that running back Dominic Davis would appear on one of NFL.com’s “17 for ’17” series.
Chase Goodbread counted down college football’s 17 fastest players in 2017, including Davis at No. 5 on the list.
The back up running back and track star finished behind only NC State’s Nyheim Hines, Stanford’s Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Arizona’s Tyrell Johnson and LSU’s Donte Jackson.
Like many of the players in the Top 17, Davis is far from a household name. In fact, he sits well down the pecking order of USC running backs coming into the season.
But could he have a bigger impact this year thanks to his speed?
Davis was a three-star prospect coming out of high school at Bishop Alemany in Mission Hills.
Unlike his fellow running back recruits from the class of 2015, four-star prospect Ronald Jones II and three-star back Aca’Cedric Ware, Davis has not been given many opportunities to prove his mettle.
Jones broke USC’s freshman rushing record and will take over the role as the Trojans’ feature back this year. Ware was no more heralded than Davis but has enjoyed three times as many career carries.
Davis has 201 rushing yards on 37 handoffs. His average of 5.4 yards per carry is solid, but 85 yards of his career total came on one run in garbage time against Arizona in 2016.
Finding a role for Davis in 2017 is a balancing act. Jones and Ware are already set up as a potential one-two punch while another pair of running backs –Vavae Malepeai, fresh off of a redshirt season, and Stephen Carr, one of the top recruits from the class of 2017– will also vie for serious playing time.
Lucky for Davis, there is a role in the offense which suits his skillset and is open for the taking.
Davis has 11 receptions for 121 yards in his career. Though he was sparingly used in 2016, he had more than 100 yards receiving as a freshman, including gains of 35, 23 and 12 yards.
As USC transitions to life without Adoree’ Jackson as a unique weapon out of the backfield, Davis has the potential to take on that role.
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Granted, replacing Jackson’s explosiveness is a tall order, but Davis’ speed could be put to better use on the field than on the bench.
As NFL.com points out, Davis set USC’s freshman indoor 60-meter time with a mark of 6.78 seconds. He also ran the 100 meters in 10.47 seconds and 200 meters in 21.48 seconds.
Motioning Davis out of the backfield and creating speed mismatches on the outside could yield big-play opportunities.
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The Trojans will also be without primary backfield pass catcher Justin Davis. The senior running back caught 14 balls last season and his contributions will have to be replaced as well.
After a relatively quiet start to his football career at USC, Davis should have opportunities to command more action as a junior. As one of the fastest players in college football, the Trojans have good reason to give him a shot.