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Sep 14, 2018

WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF

By: COLE LITTLE

Note: The following appears in the Georgia Southern gameday football program


For graduate linebacker Judah Davis, the Clemson experience has been nothing short of surreal. The son of a Clemson football legend, the twin brother of a Clemson teammate and the longtime next-door neighbor of his head coach, Davis has taken a route to become a senior leader in the Tiger locker room that can best be described as “what dreams are made of.” Although his football career is coming to a close, Davis plans to make the most of his final season of living out a life-long goal

“My Clemson experience has been amazing,” a reflective Davis said when looking back on his career in a Tiger uniform up to this point. “I’ve grown a lot as a player and as a man. It’s been a great ride and a great journey.”

Davis is the son of former Clemson All-America linebacker Jeff Davis (1978-81) and the twin brother of his fellow Clemson linebacker, J.D. With his father having been affiliated with Tiger athletics in some capacity for most of Judah’s life, he grew up in the Clemson area and has always had close ties to the university and program that he is currently a part of.

“To play here under the legacy of my dad and attend a school that several family members have attended has been special,” explained Davis. “Being able to play with my twin brother has been special, too. I’ve been able to experience the best years of my life playing alongside my brother.”

A graduate of nearby Daniel High School, where he started at linebacker for a team that made it as far as the state championship game, Judah has suited up for the Tigers since 2015. Serving primarily as a special teams contributor while at Clemson, Davis experienced his best season in 2017, when he totaled 13 tackles in 13 games.

As a Clemson native, #36 naturally bleeds orange. However, despite growing up with Jeff Davis for a father and Dabo Swinney for a neighbor, he was never pressured into playing football. Instead, he and his brother were granted the opportunity to fall in love with the game naturally, which is something that Davis credited his father for enabling.

“The best thing that my dad ever did for my brother and me was tell us that he didn’t care if we ever played football. He just wanted football to be something that we took part in only if we wanted to, and it’s definitely something that I’ve always enjoyed watching and playing.”

Hailing his father as his personal hero, Davis has not taken for granted the amazing opportunity that has been bestowed upon him in having the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps, as well as work closely with him through P.A.W. Journey.

“Thank goodness there’s two of us so that J.D., and I can split that burden, because that’s a pretty big one,” said Davis with a laugh while speaking on his attempt to live up to his famous father’s name. “My dad left a gigantic legacy at Clemson, and it’s still growing today through P.A.W. Journey.”

Adding to the surreal nature of Davis’ Clemson career has been the fact that Swinney, a mentor since childhood, is his head coach. Davis witnessed Swinney progress from a wide receivers coach to one of the most prominent head coaches in all of college athletics throughout his youth, which has made playing for Swinney rather special.

“There’s no other coach I’d rather play for. He’s always believed in me and my brother, and he gave us the opportunity to play for the school that our dad played for.”

Davis has garnered several meaningful experiences from his time spent as a Tiger. From celebrating Clemson’s CFP National Championship Game win on a confetti-covered field with his father and brother two years ago, to making a critical third-down stop that stalled a South Carolina drive in last year’s Palmetto Bowl, he has gleaned several priceless memories that he will cherish forever.

Now in the final chapter of his football career, Davis wants to add a few more artifacts to his football memory bank in what he hopes will be a season to remember.

“I want us to reach our fullest potential, and who knows what that is. Hopefully, our fullest potential is a national championship, but I just want us to be the best we can be.”

A graduate of Clemson’s marketing program who is now pursuing his master’s degree, Davis aims to follow a marketing career path, with his possible exploits including taking part in social media marketing campaigns for pro athletes and working in the marketing field for an athletic apparel company.

No matter what Davis chooses to take on in his professional life, he will always credit his time spent on the Clemson football team with helping shape the man that he has become. Evolving from a wide-eyed fan with an up-close and personal view, to the program that he adored, to a veteran leader for that very same program, Davis has experienced a football journey that seems almost too good to be true. Although that journey is not yet complete, Davis cannot help but reflect fondly on the college football career that has helped turn his wildest dreams into vivid realities.

“It’s been incredible to see Clemson football grow to where it is now and get back to being a national championship contender. I wouldn’t trade being a part of it for anything.”

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