South Carolina entered the spring with questions at running back, but now the Gamecocks have their starter and more in sophomore Mike Davis.
Head coach Steve Spurrier faced the difficult task of replacing one of college football's best running backs of the last few years in Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore was a workhorse back with huge talent even though his career was marred by serious knee injuries.
The spring opened up with a running back competition between Davis and redshirt sophomore Brandon Wilds, though Davis rose to the occasion and seized the starting role.
Throughout the spring, Davis has impressed the coaching staff and asserted himself as the premier back.
Davis has the right mindset and head on his shoulders to accomplish any goal he so desires.
According to Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com, Davis told reporters, "I just wanted to go out separate myself from other people, stand out, and get the starting job."
Davis landed the starting job and now he has his eyes set on a productive breakout season that can help his Gamecocks reach the national championship.
He will have to deal with the comparisons to Lattimore and even though Davis is no Lattimore, he can still produce at an astonishing level.
According to Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com, "Davis isn't Lattimore, but he does have a great combination of speed and strength and really took to the weight room during the offseason. He gained 10 pounds and was able to get faster and stronger in the process."
The extra weight, while also getting faster, is a deadly combination that Davis will showcase this fall.
Davis has prototypical running-back size and pairs it with quick bursts of speed that is ideal for hitting holes between the blockers.
Davis' potential is what makes him a prime candidate to have a breakout season in his first year as a starting running back.
South Carolina already has a strong group of offensive linemen for Davis to work behind. Both sides of the line are talented, highlighted by A.J. Cann and Brandon Shell.
If Davis can remain patient and allow his linemen to engage their blocks quick off the snap, then Davis will have a field day this year. Davis can burst through the gaps or bust outside off the tackles and once he hits the second level, he will make opposing defenders pay in the open field.
Davis will also benefit from an increased emphasis on an under-center, pro-style offense that will utilize power running plays with a lead blocker, fullback Connor McLaurin. Connor Shaw is the starting quarterback as of right now, but Dylan Thompson should see a fair amount of playing time.
When Thompson is in the game, the pro-style formation will be in full effect and will open up holes for Davis and the ground game.
Regardless of Shaw or Thompson and the offensive formations, Davis is a back who is coming into his own as a rusher and will thrive in the deadly South Carolina offense this season.
Davis is everything that Spurrier and the Gamecocks could ask for in a running back.
He can power through the gaps, make tacklers miss in open space, chew away at the defense and break free for the big runs. Make sure to also watch for Davis as a receiver, as the South Carolina offense may look to incorporate running backs into the passing game.
He may be a youngster, but Davis is the total package when it comes to an ideal balanced running back.
Davis is in for a big season in 2013 as the premier back in South Carolina's elite offense.
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