GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s time to take stock of just how incredible freshman running back Malik Davis’ contributions have been so far for Florida.
Through four games, Davis leads the Gators with 319 rushing yards while his 7.4 yards-per-carry average ranks 12th nationally.
Not only does he lead the team, but he has more than twice as many yards as Florida’s next-best rusher, sophomore Lamical Perine (148).
Not only are the numbers impressive by any measure, but Davis has compiled those stats despite totaling just 5 carries through the first two games.
After breaking out for 94 yards on 4 touches against Tennessee, Davis went for 93 yards on 21 carries at Kentucky and 124 yards and 2 touchdowns in 17 attempts Saturday against Vanderbilt.
In doing so, he became the first Florida first-year freshman to rush for more than 100 yards and 2 touchdowns in a game since Jeff Demps in 2008.
And if he keeps it up, he could be joining even more exclusive company.
Florida has not had a first-year freshman lead the team in rushing for an entire season since the great Fred Taylor did so in 1994, when he rushed for 873 yards and 8 touchdowns in 171 attempts. Meanwhile, the Gators have not had a first-year freshman rush for 1,000 yards since Pro Football Hall of Fame rusher Emmitt Smith rumbled for 1,341 yards in 1987.
If Davis maintains the pace he’s set the last three weeks, he would eclipse the 1,000-yard milestone by the end of the regular season.
That’s projecting quite a bit, though.
Even in the context of his current numbers, Davis has distinguished himself on an SEC and even national level.
On Saturday, he became the first first-year freshman to rush for 2 touchdowns in a game this season. He presently ranks 11th in the conference in rushing and tops among first-year players, with the next closest being Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond (252 rushing yards, 16th in the SEC) and Arkansas running back Chase Hayden (246 yards, 18th).
Malik Davis ranks among top first-year freshmen nationally
|Name||School||Rushing Yards||Overall National Rank||Games Played|
|J.K. Dobbins||Ohio State||573||10th||5|
Nationally, he ranks sixth among freshmen rushers behind Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins (573 yards), Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor (518), Louisiana’s Trey Ragas (375), Duke’s Brittain Brown (373) and Baylor’s John Lovett (321).
Dobbins, Brown and Lovett have all played in five team games while Davis, Taylor and Ragas have played in four. And again, Davis got only 1 carry in the season opener and 4 in the second game. Only Ragas and Dobbins from that group have averaged more yards per carry.
“Now, the nation should know about Malik Davis,” Perine said after the game Saturday. “That’s a good dude. He’s a good running back. He’s going to score a lot of touchdowns in The Swamp and in a lot more stadiums, too.”
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