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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 3 Avery Davis, running back - receiver - quarterback


Listed Measurements: 5-foot-11, 203 pounds
2018-19 year, eligibility: Sophomore with four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2018.
Depth chart: Let’s disregard the quarterback depth chart; three passers would need to go down for the season in order for Davis to be called upon there. At running back, Davis fits in among a quartet of unproven options — fellow sophomore slash (or “hybrid”) Jafar Armstrong and two freshmen in Jahmir Smith and C’Bo Flemister — all backing up junior Tony Jones and senior Dexter Williams. A similar theme emerges at receiver, where Davis will see time in the slot only when specific situations call for it or both sophomore Michael Young and senior Chris Finke are not available.
Recruiting: Recruited as a dual-threat quarterback by anyone extending him a scholarship offer, the three-star prospect and Texas native passed over chances at Baylor, Texas Tech and Houston in order to choose Notre Dame. Rivals considered the Under Armour All-American the No. 19 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

Davis saw no action last season, preserving a year of eligibility. Come this spring, with the coming arrival of consensus four-star quarterback Phil Jurkovec, the Irish moved Davis to running back/receiver, though he still took some third-team snaps behind center to remain fresh. Working largely at the slash position, Davis took 11 carries for 30 yards and caught two passes for 24 yards in the Blue-Gold Game, adding two completions on two attempts for 26 yards.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly and his offensive coaching staff see in Davis an athleticism that needs to be on the field, even if the quarterback depth chart is stocked.

“We’re asking him to do a lot of different things right now: play quarterback, running back, slot receiver,” Kelly said in early April. “You saw him make somebody miss (at practice). He’s got some traits there and is going to help us. We just have to figure out what that’s going to be.

“… We want to be able to utilize an athlete of that caliber while he continues to build his skill at the quarterback position. We want a guy that can make plays on the field and we think he’s a guy that can do it.”

Offensive coordinator Chip Long is naturally glad to have another option to create a myriad of backfield/slot possibilities. He always prefers a two-back set in which one of them can become a receiving option as well. In other words, he prefers slash players such as Davis and Armstrong.

“The last few practices, he’s really done a great job at receiver and running back for us,” Long said in mid-April. “Carrying a lot, but you see the confidence in him, the speed coming off the ball, power he can run with.”

Davis may not have been the most sought-after prep quarterback, but Power Five-programs from the Big 12, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 all pursued him with good reason. Moving from football’s premier position without qualm displayed equal parts maturity and competitive desire.

“I love the quarterback position; I’ve played it my whole life,” Davis said following the spring finale. “But that redshirt season, and then to be standing on the sidelines knowing you could make an impact, knowing you could make plays, that pushed me into I could do this.”

His wants at the new position(s) are simple.

“I just like making plays,” Davis said. “I can’t put a name on it. Wherever I’m at, if I’m making a play, I’m happy.”

“Barring multiple injuries to Notre Dame quarterbacks, there is absolutely no reason for Davis not to preserve a year of eligibility this fall. He can spend the time adjusting to a collegiate workload, adding a bit of heft and getting in plenty of reps while leading the Irish scout team.

“… Prior to this past spring, it would have made some sense to think Davis could quickly jump [Ian] Book once ready for action, but the latter performed ably in the spring practice, cementing himself as [Brandon] Wimbush’s backup over [Montgomery] VanGorder.”

Davis will get a chance this season, but what he does with his first few snaps will determine how many more come his way. When a quarterback moves to a skill position, the leap of faith requires the reward of early opportunities, but a further promised role is not deserved by an unproven sophomore.

A large part of Davis’ output will tie to how Armstrong performs. If the latter emerges as more of a pure running back, at least for this season, such could open an opportunity for Davis to serve as the hybrid threat Long prefers in two-back situations. Somebody needs to fit into that role, and those are the two most obvious candidates, somewhat joined by Jones.

Rule out playing as anything more than an emergency moment or passer in a gimmick situation. Davis’ career as Notre Dame’s quarterback ended before it truly began through no fault of his own. Blame Book’s satisfactory showings as a backup and Jurkovec’s hype for that.

Emerging at receiver will be difficult, but something not unprecedented in either Irish history or in Kelly’s career. The easy comparisons are Arnaz Battle and Carlyle Holiday, but they both stood notably taller (6-foot-1 and 6-foot-3, respectively) and started multiple seasons at quarterback. Such parallels are flawed.

The more apt similarities come from the likes of Amir Carlisle or Theo Riddick and their moves from the backfield to the slot, or vice versa, under Kelly. Both sub-six-foot (a la Davis), they found varied but undeniable successes moving between the two positions. Carlisle may be the most-worthwhile thought at hand. In his first season with the Irish, Carlisle took 47 carries for 204 yards before playing primarily as a receiver in his final season, catching 23 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns. Davis may not match either of those stat lines this season, but doing so in 2019 would lay the groundwork for a greater role in his final two seasons of eligibility.

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

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 99 Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle, senior
No. 98 Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 97 Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle, senior
No. 95 Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 94 Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 91 Ade Ogundeji, defensive end, junior
No. 89 Brock Wright, tight end, sophomore
No. 88 Javon McKinley, receiver, junior
No. 87 Michael Young, receiver, sophomore
No. 86 Alizé Mack, tight end, senior
No. 85 George Takacs, tight end, early-enrolled freshman
No. 85 Tyler Newsome, punter and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 84 Cole Kmet, tight end, sophomore
No. 83 Chase Claypool, receiver, junior
No. 82 Nic Weishar, tight end, fifth-year senior
No. 81 Miles Boykin, receiver, senior
No. 80 Micah Jones, receiver, early-enrolled freshman
No. 78 Tommy Kraemer, right guard, junior
No. 76 Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 75 Josh Lugg, offensive lineman, sophomore
No. 74 Liam Eichenberg, starting left tackle, junior
No. 72 Robert Hainsey, right tackle, sophomore
No. 71 Alex Bars, left guard and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 70 Luke Jones, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 69 Aaron Banks, offensive tackle, sophomore
No. 68 Jarrett Patterson, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 60 Cole Mabry, offensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 57 Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman, senior
No. 57 (theoretically) Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle, incoming freshman
No. 56 John Dirksen, offensive lineman, incoming freshman
No. 55 Jonathan Bonner, defensive tackle, fifth-year senior
No. 54 John Shannon, long snapper, junior
No. 53 Khalid Kareem, defensive end, junior
No. 53 Sam Mustipher, center and captain, fifth-year senior
No. 52 Bo Bauer, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 47 Kofi Wardlow, defensive end, sophomore
No. 45 Jonathan Jones, linebacker, junior
No. 44 Jamir Jones, defensive end, junior
No. 42 Julian Okwara, defensive end, junior
No. 41 Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle, sophomore
No. 40 Drew White, linebacker, sophomore
No. 39 Jonathan Doerer, kickoff specialist, sophomore
No. 34 Jahmir Smith, running back, early-enrolled freshman
No. 33 Shayne Simon, linebacker, incoming freshman
No. 31 Jack Lamb, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 30 Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker, sophomore
No. 29 Ovie Oghoufo, linebacker, early-enrolled freshman
No. 28 Nicco Fertitta, safety, senior
No. 27 Julian Love, cornerback, junior, second-team All-American
No. 25 Braden Lenzy, receiver, incoming freshman
No. 24 Tommy Tremble, tight end, incoming freshman
No. 24 Nick Coleman, defensive back, senior
No. 23 Drue Tranquill, linebacker, two-time captain, fifth-year senior
No. 22 Asmar Bilal, rover, senior
No. 21 Jalen Elliott, safety, junior
No. 20 Shaun Crawford, nickelback, senior
No. 20 C’Bo Flemister, running back, incoming freshman
No. 19 Justin Yoon, placekicker, senior
No. 19 Justin Ademilola, defensive end, incoming freshman
No. 18 Joe Wilkins, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 17 Isaiah Robertson, safety-turned-rover, sophomore
No. 16 Noah Boykin, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 15 D.J. Morgan, safety-turned-linebacker, junior
No. 15 Phil Jurkovec, quarterback, consensus four-star incoming freshman
No. 14 Devin Studstill, safety, junior
No. 13 Lawrence Keys, receiver, incoming freshman
No. 13 Paul Moala, local safety, incoming freshman
No. 12 DJ Brown, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 12 Ian Book, quarterback, junior
No. 11 Alohi Gilman, safety, Navy transfer
No. 10 Tariq Bracy, cornerback, incoming freshman
No. 10 Chris Finke, receiver, senior, former walk-on
No. 9 Daelin Hayes, defensive end, junior
No. 8 Jafar Armstrong, running back/receiver, sophomore
No. 8 Donte Vaughn, cornerback, junior
No. 7 Brandon Wimbush, quarterback, senior
No. 7 Derrik Allen, consensus four-star safety, incoming freshman
No. 6 Tony Jones, running back, junior
No. 5 Troy Pride, cornerback, junior
No. 4 Te’von Coney, linebacker, senior
No. 4 Kevin Austin, consensus four-star receiver, incoming freshman
No. 3 Houston Griffith, consensus four-star safety, early-enrolled freshman

No. 35 David Adams, linebacker, sophomore

No. 11 Freddy Canteen, receiver, outgoing transfer

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