Davis had endured a forgettable week leading into the Hokies’ visit to Boston College, watching his poor blocking become the subject of a viral Internet video and then seeing his starting job handed to senior Corey Fuller and redshirt freshman Demitri Knowles. To make matters worse, Coach Frank Beamer benched him for the entire first half against the Eagles, and it was no coincidence Virginia Tech’s offense looked anemic before halftime.
But then Davis leapt over a Boston College defender midway through the third quarter, hauling in a 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Logan Thomas that gave the Hokies their first lead of the game. The show of talent not only proved to be a momentum swing, it also galvanized Davis.
“It actually felt like a lot of weight was lifted off my shoulders,” Davis said Monday. “Just that feeling I had from the last game and . . . just to actually go grab it in the end zone, a lot of pressure came off my shoulders now. The game’s not over yet, of course, but at the same time it’s a relief. It was more of a relief than anything. Man, it just felt good.”
Davis finished with five catches and 104 yards Saturday, a form of redemption after being in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons last week. And all of a sudden, Davis is fast approaching some lofty school records. With 858 receiving yards this year, he’s just 104 shy of breaking Andre Davis’s school-record 962-yard season back in 1999.
If the Hokies were to qualify for a bowl game, there’s a good chance Davis would become the first 1,000-yard receiver in Virginia Tech history. It’s quite the turnaround considering the criticism he was taking just a few short days ago. Davis insisted he’s not focused on individual goals, that he’s worried about beating Virginia this week and getting Virginia Tech to a bowl game for the 20th-straight season.
But he admitted to using all the attention on his play as motivation.
“It hit me kind of hard at first, just from all the negativity and then me losing my starting spot,” Davis said. “It kind of hit me kind of hard emotionally, but I tried not to let it control how I played. What I tried to do was let it go.
“Throughout the week, I kind of forgot about it a little bit, but at the same time it’s still in the back of my mind. But once the game started on Saturday, it was just like this is another chance for you to kind of wash that off. Give them something else to talk about. My thing was to just make it good.”
Wide receivers coach Kevin Sherman said the coaching staff knew Davis would play Saturday, it just never determined when. It seems Virginia Tech entering the second half with just three points was the deciding factor, though. But Sherman was adamant the video of Davis missing blocks against Florida that surfaced played no role in the demotion.
“I don’t need a video to come out to tell him what he needs to be doing,” Sherman said. “He saw it Monday morning. These guys know what they have to do, and what people do in their free time is on them.
“I don’t think it’s one player in particular,” he added. “I think all our players need to understand there’s a standard we’ve got to play to and we’ve got to step up and make plays and I thought he did that in the second half.”