Dominique Davis is a perfect case study of the ability for the USFL to send players to the NFL. The reason being, Davis is just three seasons removed from college. At 25 years old, and with a successful USFL season behind him he has shown he belongs at the highest level of professional football. Click the reminder below to make sure you catch the full interview live!
Small School Bias Strikes Again
Davis was a big time performer in college. His school, UNC Pembroke, is a Division II football program and this has seemingly held Davis back in his efforts to stick in the NFL. The fact that he was unable to showcase his abilities via a combine or pro day only exasperated his situation.
Following a promising college career that ended with a monster season, he went undrafted, landing in New York with the Jets. The Jets gave him a fair opportunity to make the roster in 2020. However, a late injury in camp resulted in the Jets releasing him just prior to final cuts with an injury designation.
Since then Davis has been left in the cold of NFL free agency, not yet given a second chance at achieving his dreams of playing in the NFL. The 6’3 315 lb defensive tackle known for his penchant for consistent penetration had more or less fallen off the NFL radar in just one year.
Refusing To Take No For An Answer
The thing is, Davis has no quit in him. He knew that if he wanted to make it in the professional football world, he would have to continue to claw his way up from developmental leagues. This led him to the spring league in 2021. The Spring League was a league that required it’s players to pay their way into the league, resulting in the hungriest of players to play there.
Davis easily was one of the most determined of them all. Knowing he had what it took to play in the NFL, he knew it was just a matter of proving it on the field, even if it meant paying for that opportunity. At just 22 years old, Davis was one of the younger players in the league at the time. While his time in the TSL did benefit him, it ultimately did not lead him back onto an NFL roster.
With one season of professional coaching on his resume with the TSL, and looking for his next opportunity he decided the USFL was the next best bet for him. Instead of paying the league for a chance to play in order to help his chances with the NFL, the USFL would be paying Davis, allowing him to focus on football at least for a portion of the year.
Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Davis
To many, this may have looked like a small step. To Davis the importance of this opportunity was not lost on him. He would go to make the most of his opportunity. In just 10 games Davis would rack up, 57 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 3 tackles for a loss. If you look back at college and high school, it seems Davis performs the best when his next step is on the line.
Davis is the type of guy who takes his performance to another level when the pressure on him as an individual increases. Looking back at his high school career, his senior year knowing his college future was on the line Davis balled out. To the tune of 54 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 hurries, and 16 tackles for a loss in 14 games.
In college, it was the same thing, in his final year of school he knew he needed a strong performance if he had any hopes of being drafted. Davis again found the necessary gear without himself to step it up a notch again. This time his tackle numbers dipped just a bit to 40, he had 6 for a loss, 3 sacks, 1 tipped pass, and 1 fumble recovery. This tremendously helped his stock prior to draft day but wasn’t enough to get him drafted.
This time with the opportunity in the USFL in hand, it was a given that Davis would have a great season just in time. He didn’t disappoint his fans that saw this coming. After winning a starting job out of camp, Davis was quickly making a name for himself. He would finish the season with 57 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, and 3.5 sacks. All in all a solid season for a 4-3 nose tackle expected to two gap at times.
If you take even a closer look, Davis really took it to a new level in the last two weeks of the season. Heading into week 9 Houston was 1-7, and Davis wasn’t thrilled about it, but knew his team was better than its record. So much like many of his teammates he took it upon himself to close out the season strong. In his last three games, two of which were victories against playoff teams, Davis combined for 12 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 tackle for a loss.
Is it Enough?
The question will always come back to is it enough to get him to the NFL? In my opinion yes it was. The questions about Davis since college have been can he play against NFL offensive linemen? The thing is it’s up to scouts and coaches to answer those questions by watching the film he put out there in 2022 in the USFL. Only time will tell which answer they come up with. With workouts looming, Could Domenique Davis be the next USFL player to sign a contract?
Stay with USFL News Hub all off season.