VANCOUVER — Marcus Davis has never lost his purpose, and it’s why he’s convinced that he can get back on a football field, this time in the CFL, and show that he is still every bit Mr. All-Purpose.
Last week, after months of wondering where he fit in the professional football puzzle following a second straight season of ACL recovery, the fourth-year UBC Thunderbirds’ receiver got the phone call he was hoping for when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats tabbed him in the fourth round of the CFL draft, 31st overall.
“They love the athlete that I am, that I can make big plays and just be a game-changer when I am on the field,” said Davis, who was actually in Hamilton last week, staying with older brother Terrell, with whom he has now been reunited with for the first time since the pair helped the ‘Birds win the 2015 Vanier Cup national championship.
The brothers starred at Victoria’s Mt. Douglas Secondary and led the Rams to provincial Subway Bowl title glory before doing the same at UBC. Terrell was drafted as a linebacker by the Tiger-Cats in the third round (21st overall) of the 2016 CFL draft.
“It was a big relief to hear my name called,” continued the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Davis, who was in Hamilton at the start of last week to take a medical, and thus decided to crash with his older brother. “I really had no idea, with my history, where I would go in the draft, but I’m thankful the Ti-Cats invited me in.”
SPINNING HIS WHEELS
So many factors feed into the final course of a season, and in the case of the UBC Thunderbirds, who knows how different things may have worked out the past two campaigns had Davis been an active-and-ready part of UBC head coach Blake Nill’s game-day roster.
From the time he surfaced in the 10th grade as a triple threat run-catch-return dynamo, the likes of which has rarely been seen at the B.C. high school football level, Marcus Davis seemed to cement his reputation as a guy seemingly unstoppable once he got the ball in space.
Consider that over his final two seasons of high school at Mt. Douglas that Davis — through the run, catch and return games — accumulated a mind-boggling 5,764 all-purpose yards, scoring 75 touchdowns in the process.
Yes, those are video game numbers for sure.
Yet when former UBC head coach Shawn Olson brought Davis aboard for the 2014 season, he showed how readily those numbers translated to U Sports, with 1,293 all-purpose yards as a pure freshman.
In 2015, when a coaching change was made and Nill took the reigns en route to a Cinderella season-opening win over Laval and later, a Vanier Cup national crown, Davis was even better.
Not only did he sparkle with 1,125 all-purpose yards during the regular season, over the four-game post-season, he added another 516 for 1,641 all-purpose yards in 12 games.
Then it all came to a skidding halt.
“My first two years (at UBC) I think I played in 21 games,” Davis correctly says. “Then, I played in six games the last two years.”
In 2016, it was a left ACL injury after three games which limited him to 767 all-purpose yards.
In 2017, cruelly, it was a right ACL injury after three games, and this time, it limited him to just 167 all-purpose yards.
Think about that.
From 2,934 yards over his first two UBC seasons to 934 over his last two. Or to contrast even more the inactivity to his personal odometre, Davis averaged 2,175 yards per season over his final two high school and first two university seasons, before averaging just 384 the past two.
“This past season, I guess it was unbalanced between my two legs so the other one went,” says Davis who played Sept. 9 vs. Manitoba but then was forced to miss the rest of the season. “I kept it under wraps. I tried to move in silence and I just wanted to get back to being the player I know I am.”
HOPING FOR HAPPY RETURNS
Getting a call from Hamilton head coach June Jones following his selection was huge for Davis.
“It was crazy emotional,” he says. “All I can think about is getting back to being healthy, playing football and having fun doing it.”
Now five months into his second ACL rehabilitation stint, Davis has learned about a new level of patience and hard work.
“It’s a slow process,” he begins. “So right now I think I am 80 per cent. I am almost there.”
Of course he hasn’t done it alone.
“It’s definitely been a tough period,” he says of the past two seasons. “This past season was a big one to be exposed to CFL scouts. Playing a lot my first two years and then getting hurt was frustrating. But I couldn’t do anything about it but stay patient and believe in the process.
“My brother was there for me since Day 1, and another guy who really helped me was (UBC teammate) Will Watson (picked 54th overall by the B.C. Lions). He tore his ACL before he got to UBC, and so I really relied on him for help.”
With all of that, Davis’ goal is to make the past two seasons a blip on his football road.
In the end, he’s counting on his level of purpose to help him once again be Mr. All-Purpose.
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