Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 3 Avery Davis, fifth-year receiver, Clemson hero, former quarterback

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Listed measurements: 5-foot-11, 202 pounds.
2021-22 year, eligibility: A fifth-year graduate student already, Davis still has two seasons of eligibility remaining thanks to the universal pandemic eligibility waiver. A seven-year career is unlikely, but it remains within the realm of possibility.
Depth Chart: Davis will start as Notre Dame’s slot receiver unless an absolute vacuum forms at the field position — where one would expect senior Braden Lenzy to step forward. In that scenario, Davis may pop outside and senior Lawrence Keys would start at slot.
Recruiting: A three-star dual-threat quarterback with a history of winning in high school, the Under Armour All-American and Texas native turned down offers from Baylor, Texas Tech and Houston to have a chance at starting at quarterback for the Irish. Clearly, things took a turn along the way.

NAME, IMAGE, LIKENESS
The ease of Cameo, for both the content creator and the fan, makes it possibly the smoothest piece of using name, image and likeness rights to date. To enjoy a personalized video message from Davis, a fan needs to pay only $22, of which Davis receives $16.50.

That’s enough for a decent meal near campus, and it’s cheap enough to be a reasonable surprise for a Notre Dame fan.

CAREER TO DATE
Davis never took the field for the Irish as a quarterback, spending 2017 on the sideline preserving a year of eligibility before giving running back a try in 2018. When that decision was made in the spring of 2018, Davis insisted he was simply trying to help the team, a selfless attitude that has remained a pillar of his career. Nonetheless, it was not an easy transition.

“I would be lying if I sit here and tell you it was sunshine and rainbows the whole time,” he said in March. “I definitely went through dog days and days where it was complete confusion, what’s going on, where am I going to be? It was a point where I’m playing in the fall and the spring in completely different positions. From a comfort aspect, you’re not really able to set fast and set your mind on a specific task and grow at it because it’s such uneasiness, so much uncertainty.”

RELATED READING: Avery Davis’ move bumps Notre Dame’s RB depth from dire to versatile

Davis played well enough as a running back, but was buried on the depth chart, so Notre Dame next tried him at cornerback, where recruiting gaffes of the past assured the depth chart would not hold him back.

But those became Davis’ toughest days with the Irish.

“Every day was a battle for my first 2-3 years,” he said. “Every day was a constant having to reset my mind. It wasn’t like I could get up and go to work. I had something I had to think about, this is probably going to be a tough day, especially when I was playing defense. This is going to be a tough day because I’m so far behind the threshold of everybody else. Everyone else is improving and they’re here to play the position that they chose to play, that was really tough for me.”

That soon led to a move to receiver where finally Davis caught on. He looked capable in 2019 before breaking out in 2020, most notably with perhaps the two biggest catches of Notre Dame’s pandemic, one to set up the tying touchdown against No. 1 Clemson and the other the tying touchdown.

No matter how Davis’ 2021 unfolds, those two catches will live on in Irish lore.

2017: Did not play.
2018: 9 games; 22 rushes for 70 yards with five catches for 30 yards.
2019: 11 games; 10 catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns with six rushes for 10 yards.
2020: 12 games; 24 catches for 322 yards and two touchdowns with three rushes for 57 yards.

QUOTES
Perhaps because of that clutch showing in the biggest moment, perhaps because of that long-held selflessness, perhaps simply because of seniority, Davis has emerged as the leader among the receivers in nearly all facets.

“What we’ve been looking for is consistency and performance,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in early April. “And you know you’re going to get that from Avery Davis. He’s been a leader of the group.”

Davis intends for that to be more than an off-the-field role.

“I’m going to play a significant role in this offense,” he said. “My role will expand. It could still be the utility version, but I feel like there’s a lot more plays to be made, and I’m really looking forward to it. I will have a big impact on this offense this season.”

2021 OUTLOOK
Davis comes across as a probable captain. He has been through too much in full view of his entire team only to find a productive role; respect naturally follows that.

But when it comes to playing time this year, he may also be the only sure thing among the Irish receivers. Whether he starts at slot or at field receiver, he will be the most reliable option for quarterback Jack Coan on Labor Day Eve (one month!).

If Davis can maintain that reliability and turn it into consistency throughout the season, then he could approach 40 catches and 500 yards this year, perhaps even more yardage with a few big plays courtesy of Coan’s stronger arm.

DOWN THE ROAD
Davis could return to Notre Dame next year, but a time comes to try your hand at the next level, and putting together such a solid season may earn Davis a look from an NFL front office.

Catching on at the next level seems unlikely, but taking that chance is something someone with Davis’ drive needs to do, and he has certainly earned the right to be a bit selfish with his pursuits.

NOTRE DAME 99-TO-0
Let’s try this again
No. 99 Rylie Mills, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 98 Alexander Ehrensberger, sophomore defensive end
No. 97 Gabriel Rubio, early-enrolled freshman defensive tackle the size of a Volkswagen
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, fifth-year defensive tackle-turned-end
No. 92 Aidan Keanaaina, sophomore defensive tackle
No. 91 Joshua Bryan, incoming freshman kicker
No. 88 Mitchell Evans, early-enrolled freshman tight end, a former high school quarterback
No. 87 Michael Mayer, star sophomore tight end and lead offensive weapon
No. 85 George Takacs, senior tight end, ‘152 years old’
No. 84 Kevin Bauman, sophomore tight end
No. 83 Jayden Thomas, freshman receiver, four-star prospect out of Georgia
No. 82 Xavier Watts, sophomore receiver
No. 81 Jay Brunelle, speedy sophomore receiver
No. 80 Cane Berrong, early-enrolled freshman tight end
No. 79 Tosh Baker, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 78 Pat Coogan, incoming freshman center
No. 77 Quinn Carroll, junior offensive lineman
No. 76 Joe Alt, incoming and towering freshman offensive lineman
No. 75 Josh Lugg, fifth-year right tackle, finally a starter
No. 73 Andrew Kristofic, junior offensive tackle, possible backup center
No. 72 Caleb Johnson, early-enrolled offensive tackle, former Auburn commit
No. 70 Hunter Spears, junior offensive guard, former defensive tackle
No. 68 Michael Carmody, sophomore offensive tackle
No. 62 Marshall guard Cain Madden transfers to Notre Dame, likely 2021 starter
No. 57 Jayson Ademilola, senior defensive tackle
No. 56 John Dirksen, senior reserve offensive lineman
No. 56 Howard Cross, junior defensive tackle
No. 55 Jarrett Patterson, the best Irish offensive lineman
No. 55 Kahanu Kia, freshman linebacker, Hawaiian, LDS member
No. 54 Jacob Lacey, junior defensive tackle
No. 54 Blake Fisher, early-enrolled freshman left tackle, starter?
No. 52 Zeke Correll, junior, starting center
No. 52 Bo Bauer, senior linebacker, #BeADog
No. 50 Rocco Spindler, early-enrolled freshman offensive guard
No. 48 Will Schweitzer, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 47 Jason Onye, incoming and raw freshman defensive end
No. 44 Devin Aupiu, early-enrolled freshman defensive end
No. 44 Alex Peitsch and No. 65 Michael Vinson, Irish long snappers, both needed
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, fifth-year defensive tackle, eventual record-holder in games played
No. 40 Drew White, fifth-year linebacker, three-year starter
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, fifth-year kicker, using the pandemic exception
No. 35 Marist Liufau, junior Hawaiian linebacker
No. 34 Osita Ekwonu, junior defensive end
No. 33 Shayne Simon, senior linebacker
No. 32 Prince Kollie, freshman linebacker, Butkus Award winner
No. 29 Matt Salerno, senior punt returner, walk-on
No. 29 Khari Gee, freshman safety, former LSU commit
No. 28 TaRiq Bracy, senior cornerback, possible nickel back
No. 27 JD Bertrand, junior linebacker
No. 26 Clarence Lewis, sophomore cornerback, second-year starter
No. 25 Philip Riley, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 25 Chris Tyree, speedy sophomore running back
No. 24 Jack Kiser, junior linebacker, onetime pandemic hero
No. 24 Audric Estime, freshman running back, former Michigan State commit, four-star
No. 23 Litchfield Ajavon, junior safety
No. 23 Kyren Williams, junior running back
No. 22 Logan Diggs, incoming freshman running back
No. 21 Lorenzo Styles, early-enrolled freshman receiver
No. 21 Caleb Offord, sophomore cornerback
No. 20 C’Bo Flemister, senior running back, coming off an offseason with a smirch
No. 20 Justin Walters, early-enrolled freshman safety and likely early special teams contributor
No. 20 JoJo Johnson, freshman cornerback, former Cincinnati commit
No. 19 Jay Bramblett, junior punter
No. 19 Justin Ademilola, senior defensive end
No. 18 Joe Wilkins Jr., senior receiver, team favorite
No. 18 Nana Osafo-Mensah, junior defensive end, coming back from a knee injury
No. 18 Chance Tucker, freshman cornerback
No. 17 Jack Coan, graduate quarterback, Wisconsin transfer
No. 17 Jordan Botelho, sophomore defensive end, full-speed at all times
No. 16 Deion Colzie, incoming freshman receiver with both speed and leaping height
No. 16 KJ Wallace, junior safety, possible starting nickel back
No. 15 Ryan Barnes, early-enrolled freshman cornerback
No. 14 Kyle Hamilton, junior safety, preseason All-American, top 2022 draft prospect
No. 13 Paul Moala, senior linebacker coming off an Achilles injury
No. 13 Lawrence Keys, senior receiver
No. 12 Tyler Buchner, early-enrolled freshman quarterback, former four-star recruit
No. 12 DJ Brown, senior safety mired in a starting competition
No. 11 Ron Powlus III, early-enrolled freshman quarterback
No. 11 Ramon Henderson, sophomore cornerback with sprinter’s speed
No. 10 Drew Pyne, sophomore quarterback, likely No. 2
No. 10 Isaiah Pryor, graduate linebacker, 2020 Ohio State transfer
No. 7 Brendon Clark, junior quarterback with a knee worry
No. 7 Isaiah Foskey, star junior defensive end, Vyper
No. 5 Cam Hart, junior cornerback, expected boundary starter
No. 4 Kevin Austin, always-hyped, rarely-seen senior receiver
No. 3 Houston Griffith, senior safety needing to play with a ‘screwdriver’ more often

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