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Despite Limited High School Work, Robert Davis Thrived In College

Posted May 19, 2017

Robert Davis was just hours away from having to go the walk-on route following high school, but a late offer from Georgia State altered a path that's led to the NFL.

Robert Davis was just hours away from having to go the walk-on route following high school, but a late offer from Georgia State altered a path that's led to the NFL.

As signing day approached during his senior year of high school, Robert Davis remained without a scholarship offer to play football and it was understandable as to why.

Throughout his career at Northside (Ga.) High School, Davis played in a run-heavy offense that rarely used his size out wide. In fact, Davis said he had just eight receptions total in high school.

Davis kicked around the idea of walking on at a football program during his freshman year of college despite the fact he could play basketball at the next level, but a visit from Georgia State football head coach Trent Miles changed Davis’ future.

Miles had come to Northside to watch another potential recruit before seeing Davis’ potential as a football recruit while he was on the basketball court.

“It was because my [high school] coach pretty much told him we got a guy here who can really play football, but I mean we run the ball we don’t really pass it a lot to him, though, come and watch him play basketball,” Davis told Redskins.com. “He ended up coming to one of my basketball games and seeing my athletic abilities and all those things and he offered me after that.”

Davis joined Georgia State for the school’s first season in the Sun Belt Conference after three years as a Division I-AA program. But his scholarship offer came right down to the deadline.

“I ended up going to school that day and then my dad called me to the office and told me they were going to offer me,” Davis said. “So I went and put on some dress clothes on, came back, and signed the scholarship.”

From the get-go, the 6-foot-3, 219 pounder proved that his lack of big numbers in high school wasn’t a product of poor skill, rather a situation where the wide receivers were asked to be blockers in an option attack. Davis finished his freshman season as the Panthers’ second-leading receiver, catching 44 passes for 711 yards and four touchdowns. In his debut game alone against Samford, Davis nearly matched his high school career catches mark, as he hauled in seven passes.

Despite his successful season, Georgia State struggled in its jump up to Division I-A competition, losing all 12 games.

“It was frustrating but like anything else in life it was a learning experience,” Davis said. “It taught me that at that point we had a lot of work to do in order to get to where we were trying to get to, and I had to kind of flourish into a leader for the team because I was one of the lead guys that year. So I just had to turn into a leader for the team and just realize it was a growing process and there was going to be growing pains that came along with it. But eventually we were able to start winning some games and start being competitive.”

By the completion of his senior season at Georgia State, Davis certainly left behind his mark on the fledgling program. He is the school’s career leader in receptions (222) and receiving yards (3,391) and was the first three-time all-conference selection for the Panthers.

Additionally, he finished his career only second to Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton in career receiving yards in Sun Belt Conference history.

While Davis showed up in big moments during conference matchups, the 22-year-old was at his best against top college competition.

In games against West Virginia, Alabama, Washington, Clemson, Oregon and Wisconsin, Davis recorded 23 receptions for 335 yards and three touchdowns, going against the likes of Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and other first-round talents.

“My mindset was that those were big schools, those where the schools that didn’t give me a chance,” Davis said. “So I wanted to show them what they missed out on. So that’s why I just approached those games with a different mindset that I just had to go out there and be a dog on the field and I feel like I was able to do that.”

Davis was also able to work under former Detroit Lions wide receivers coach Tim Lappano, who worked with All-Pro Calvin Johnson the year he recorded an NFL-record 1,964 receiving yards.

Lappano explained to him the demands of being a successful NFL wide receiver. Now in Washington, he’ll get a similar experience with Redskins wide receivers coach and 12-year veteran Ike Hilliard.

“Anytime that you can have a coach who experiences some of the things that you’re going to have to experience is always a positive,” Davis said. 

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