A laid-back summer has rejuvenated the Kent State football team's record-setting signal-caller, who was feeling a bit bogged down last spring after laboring through eight consecutive grueling months of athletics and academics.
"I needed a break," said Davis, during a recess from two-a-day practices earlier this week. "I worked out, threw and ran (at Kent) and took a summer class for about a month, then I went home for a month in mid-July. I played some basketball to keep my lateral movement strong, and just enjoyed some time at home."
Physically, Davis was banged up after playing a total of 31 games as an integral member of the Golden Flashes' football and basketball teams. But the long stretch was actually most taxing mentally, according to Davis.
"It's all mental," he said. "That's all it is. Sometimes you get tired of sports and getting up in the morning to go to class every day, but you just have to get through it. It all pays off in the end."
This year Davis entered his first fall camp as the undisputed No. 1 starter at quarterback. And he's handling his new role well according to offensive coordinator Charley Molnar.
"He's doing exceptionally well," said Molnar. "It was difficult last fall because he didn't play spring ball, and he was late to summer camp because he had to take care of some academic issues. So he spent most of (fall) camp as the third-string quarterback, and he didn't get many reps until he was finally able to establish himself about one week into the season.
"But since he became our starter in the fourth game last year, he's gotten all the reps as the No. 1 quarterback. So he really understands what's going on now."
Even while learning on the fly a year ago, Davis set school records for pass completions (194), yardage (2,707) and touchdowns (32) in just eight starts to help the Flashes churn out 31 points and 442 yards per game.
But now that he has the system down pat, Davis is expecting even more in '98.
"This offense has been together through winter, spring and summer workouts, so we know each other well," said Davis. "We all know what we're doing, and that allows us to work on new things and put in extra plays we couldn't have last year. We're all on the same page, and that's going to make a difference."
And so will a summer of much-needed and well-warranted rest.
"Jose was rarin' to go a week before camp even started," said Molnar. "He shows no signs of fatigue, that's for sure."
Kent State will conduct its first intrasquad scrimmage Saturday morning at approximately 9:30 a.m. at Dix Stadium. The Flashes will also scrimmage next Wednesday and on the following Saturday.
Senior Marlon Gates, who lettered as a running back after rushing for 184 yards a year ago, has been moved to wide receiver.
"Last year we were disappointed in some of our receivers' inability to run after they caught the ball," said Molnar. "We knew Marlon was a good ballcarrier in the open field, and he has excellent hands. And with Charles Chatman getting most of the time at running back, we didn't want a senior with Marlon's athletic ability on the bench. So it was a logical move."
Gates is catching on to his new position quickly according to Molnar.
"Marlon's been super," said Molnar. "He's been in our system three years now, so he knows it well. There haven't been any problems."
A handful of freshmen have already caught Molnar's attention, including former Canton McKinley teammates DeMarlo Rozier (running back) and Matt Curry (wide receiver).
"DeMarlo's going to play some for us this year," said Molnar. "Three
receivers are also slightly ahead of the rest (of the freshmen) right
now: Curry, (Joshua) Bostick and (Jurron) Kelly. They all three have the
potential to play this year as well."