PITTSBURGH — Freshman running back Vincent Davis only carried the ball two times for six yards in Pitt’s opening week loss to Virginia.
For other freshmen, that might sound like a normal stat line in their first ever college football game. But not Davis. He has always wanted to be challenged, dating back to his high school years in Florida.
“[Vincent is a] solid young man who has always thrived on competition and he always rose to the occasion,” said Florida recruiting guru Larry Blustein.
Davis was the 32nd-ranked running back in the country, out of Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
He rushed for 2,049 yards and 24 touchdowns over his junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Davis led Cardinal Gibbons to their first state championship in school history. Davis’ talent level was clear, even before he got to Pitt.
“He is an elite back with speed and tremendous vision,” Blustein said. “He was easily a top back in high school who we pushed from the beginning of his career.”
Even though Davis didn’t get the stat-popping numbers in his first college contest, it was the experience and comfort level that paid dividends for every other game that we will play at Pitt. Head coach Pat Narduzzi was aware of Davis’ limited amount of usage when he spoke with the media on Monday.
“We didn’t get a chance to play him early in that Virginia game,” said Narduzzi. “Maybe we made a mistake.”
Davis received a boost in reps Saturday against Ohio. He carried the ball 12 times for 54 yards and a touchdown. This week against Penn State, Pitt has him listed as a co-starter, alongside A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley, Jr.
“He’s mature, he’s loose, he doesn’t play tight, doesn’t get nervous, doesn’t trip and fall down,” said Narduzzi. “That’s what I’ve seen during camp when we gave him opportunities to run with the ones.”
This isn’t something out of nowhere. Davis has been an impactful runner for years and had people on notice coming into this season.
“There was no doubt, that if he was given a chance this year, he would stand out,” said Bluestein. “[I knew after] National Signing Day that he had the chance to be one of the best prospects in the class. No doubt in my mind that he would make an impact.”
Week 3 will be a pivotal week for Pitt’s offense as a whole as they go up against one of the best front sevens in the country in Happy Valley. Davis, however, won’t shy away from the moment.
“You just may see him do some other things this week too,” said Narduzzi. “He’s kind of a gamer … We have been very, very impressed with Vincent.”