Jarrad Davis provides rare bright spot for Gators defense

Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis tackles Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts in the 2016 SEC Championship Game.
Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis tackles Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts in the 2016 SEC Championship Game.

ATLANTA – When former Camden County Wildcat standout Jarrad Davis announced he was going to return to Florida for his senior season, his goal was to play in Atlanta again for a SEC Championship.

After missing the past three games with an ankle injury, it looked like that wasn't going to happen. However, with "a ton of hard work" according to Davis, he returned to record four tackles in the Gators 54-16 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game.

"Its real hard to accept what happened today," said Davis after the game. "They (Alabama) came out and they were the better team today. That's what football is all about.  You have to win the small battles every play and they won more than we did, that's why the score was the way it is."

With more than a half dozen starters missing from both sides of the ball, Davis' return was a rare bright spot on the injury report this week. He said afterwards that you can play the what-if-we-were-healthy game, but that won't do any good.

"You can think that but at the end of the day in football, in life, you have to play the hand that you are dealt," said Davis. "You have to come out and fight your hardest and put your life on the line and give it everything you have."

According to his teammates, giving it all he has is nothing new for the senior linebacker. Cornerback Teez Tabor said Davis returning to the starting lineup was definitely a boost today.

"Just being out there in his presence is always fun," said Tabor who had four tackles, one for a loss against the Crimson Tide. "It was great having him out there. He gave it all for his team in his senior year to win a championship. I have nothing but respect for J.D."

Former Baker County star CeCe Jefferson has known Davis since their days in high school.  He says that it was very special being able to play side by side the last two years with him.

"That guy had such a presence when he's on the field," said Jefferson. "It effects everybody, not just our team but the other team as well. It was an honor to play with him today. I just can't say enough about the guy, I love him and I'm just happy to be able to say I played with him for two years in a row."

As far as what's next for Davis, the NFL will certainly be calling, but Jarrad says there's still business to finish with the Gators.

"We got a bowl game next. We have to go back to the drawing board and work like we have never worked before to make sure this doesn't happen again.  This is how we ended last year and we can't have that. So we have to stay together as a team and push ourselves as a team."