Note: The following appears in the Florida State football gameday program.
Tyler Davis is one of the most prolific defensive players in the history of Clemson football. Some would put him in the same category as his position coach, Nick Eason, who was a Super Bowl XLIII champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Eason, in his second season as Clemson’s defensive run game coordinator and defensive tackles coach, knows quite a bit about what it takes to make a lineman a ferocious competitor on the gridiron.
As a Tiger from 1999-02, Eason was a team co-captain, an All-ACC selection and an All-American who played in 47 games (35 starts), recording 30 tackles for loss and 15 sacks before becoming a fourth-round NFL draft pick by the Denver Broncos. He played 117 NFL games over nine seasons with the Browns, Steelers and Cardinals. Eason said that Davis is a prototype defensive tackle.
Davis is already in outstanding company, as his name will be listed alongside Clemson greats like William Perry (1981-84), Dexter Lawrence (2016-18) and Christian Wilkins (2016-18) as Tigers who have earned the most career All-ACC selections as a defensive tackle.
“I thought he (Davis) had one of his best seasons last year, and there is no surprise why he’s an All-American, because he outworks everyone,” said Eason. “That’s how he has gotten the name, respect and reputation, because he outworks everyone every single day.”
Like Eason, Davis has a nose for the football, totaling 495 snaps in 2022. The 6’2, 300-pounder from Apopka, Fla. was projected as a third-round draft pick, as his accolades put him in a prime position to leave Death Valley and head for a dream career in pro football.
So why did Davis elect to return to Clemson for a fifth and final season? He said it was simply a matter of coming back as part of a stacked unit and finishing some unfinished business.
“I felt like I left a lot of stuff on the table, and my goal was to get everything off the table that I could,” explained Davis. “I have all the resources behind me, with Coach Eason, Coach (Dennis) Love and Coach (Joey) Batson. With everyone around me, I believe I can be the best Tyler Davis I can be as a product getting ready for the NFL.”
If the college football world has not yet seen the best that Davis has to offer, then 2023 should be a sensational season for Davis. That is undoubtedly the thinking of Eason.
Not surprisingly, Davis said his ultimate goal is to help lead Clemson to a national championship. In addition to a lineup of proven coaches, he said that having a bevy of talent back, like fellow defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro, adds fuel to his ambitious fire.
“Everything on our goal sheet is set up for us to win a national title. If we take one goal at a time, everything will be there. Of course, having Ruke and everyone else coming back with me…that right there made it a no-brainer for me. We have a certain accountability now, because we know what everyone came back for. We know all the goals, and we know this is our last time going.”
Davis’ “last time going” is also rooted in his deep belief in a higher being.
“I talked to God,” reflected Davis. “You have to be able to talk to your higher being, the person you believe in. I talked to Him, I prayed about it and I talked to my family. Then, I weighed my options and talked to Coach Eason. He’s someone who’s been there. I also talked to Coach (Dabo) Swinney and Ruke, and we made a decision to come back.”
As a program referred to as “Wide Receiver University (WRU),” some have said that Clemson is also known for the defensive linemen it has produced over the years. Davis is one of the reasons for that acknowledgment, and he said the reason for that is the culture that is Clemson football. The defensive linemen, who were once known as the “Power Rangers” and then the “Avengers,” has unlimited potential with the return of Davis and veteran leadership in 2023.
A Davis-led defensive line could spell trouble for opposing offenses and a lot of success for the Tigers for the remainder of the season.
“If we take care of everything in front of us, we will be where we want to be when it’s all said and done.”