Hornet Awards – Most improved male athlete: Todd Davis

AJ Taylor

Todd Davis of the Sacramento State football team totaled 21 tackles as a defensive end in 2010. This fall, the sophomore was converted to a linebacker, charged his way to a team-leading 96 tackles and was named the Most Improved Male Athlete by The State Hornet.

On the field, Davis repeated a simple mantra to himself: “Your next play is your best play.” Davis is somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to football; when he made a mistake he would lose focus on the task at hand. He said by repeating this to himself he kept his eyes on what was important for the team. So at fall camp, linebacker coach Andy Avalos drilled these words into Davis’ head.

Davis’ next season certainly was his best season. He earned himself a Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week honor for Week 6 and a spot on the all-Big Sky honorable mention roster.

Davis’ coaches saw him accept each and every honor with gratitude and humility.

“The reason I won it was not because of my effort, but because of the effort for the whole team,” Davis junior said.

His success after the position change came as no surprise to those who have followed Davis throughout his football career. As a junior in high school, Davis made the switch from defensive tackle to linebacker and during the season he amassed 161 tackles including 14 sacks. Davis earned a spot on two all-area teams for his performance.

“When he went from defensive end to outside linebacker at Sac State it was like ‘Oh man, it’s really on now,’” Todd Davis Sr. said.

Davis Sr. drove six hours from Palmdale, Calif., to all but one home game.

“It doesn’t matter if our kids were playing in Timbuktu,” Davis Sr. said, “We would be there.”

Davis Jr. said he thinks that the staggering jump in numbers of tackles was because he no longer had to split playing time. With the position change in 2011, Davis was the sole starter and was able to come into his own on the field.

“When you’re in the game a lot more, you learn to roll with things and you pick up on different things the longer you’re in the game,” Davis Jr. said. “You might notice the (pressure on) the lineman’s hand whether it’s going to be a run or a pass play.”

Davis is looking forward to rolling right into next season. He said his next season will be his best season.

“Next year is supposed to be my big year, not only success for me, but success for the team,” Davis Jr. said.

Comments about Todd Davis:

Todd Davis Sr., father: “When he was getting close to the 90 (tackles) mark he was getting excited. ‘I’ve got to get the century mark, I’ve got to hit 100!’ He was a little down when he finished with 96. Todd is a ferocious competitor. I had no idea Toddy was going to do what he did.”

Marshall Sperbeck, Sac State head coach: “Todd had a good season for his first year playing linebacker. He is a very explosive player who plays with great energy. We moved Todd to linebacker so that he could be on the field more and take advantage of his abilities. We look forward to Todd continuing to grow as a player.”

AJ Taylor can be reached at [email protected].