Randall Davis would make a great Marine.
In four seasons at William Blount High School, the Governor offensive linemen learned a great deal about the need to adapt and overcome.
Davis signed a National Letter of Intent last week to play his college football at Cumberland University next season. It’s an extraordinary achievement, not that the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Davis doesn’t have the necessary football skills.
“I think Randall will do a great job at Cumberland,” William Blount coach David Gregory said. “I found out the other day he’s not even 18 years old yet. He could blossom in the next couple of years.”
His first two seasons at William Blount, Davis’ duties largely entailed pass blocking. Then Governor coach Scott Meadows ran a spread offense passing attack. Run blocking primarily involved engaging an opposing lineman long enough for speed back Darrin Garner to squirt through the hole.
A season ago, Meadows took a year-long leave of absence, turning the team over to interim coach Richie Wilhite. Things remained much the same under Wilhite, but there were subtle changes. A year later, Davis’s senior season with the Governors, there was no longer anything subtle about it.
Meadows returned from his leave of absence, took the Governors through spring practice, then promptly left William Blount to take the head coaching job at Knoxville Catholic. Wilhite, not offered the job as the Governor coach on a permanent basis, left the program.
Enter Gregory, who’s option-based offense meant a return to traditional run blocking for his line mates.
Four years, three coaches and no small amount of confusion.
“With three coaches in four years, it was tough for us to know what it (the offense) was supposed to feel like,” Davis said.
The 2009 season for the Governors is one all William Blount teams to follow should not soon forget. The 2008 team under Wilhite had finished a frustrating 1-9. The disappointing finish withstanding, the Governors sustained heavy losses to graduation.
When Gregory, originally hired to be the team’s new defensive coordinator prior to the spring, was promoted to head coach, William Blount had little depth, much frustration to process and many more questions than answers.
Davis and William Blount’s other seniors withstood it all, amassing a 3-7 season that far outpacing the record. The Governors would lose a pair of games by less than a touchdown, proving competitive until the closing minutes in three others. The how in all of it had much to do with Gregory, Davis said.
“He’s disciplined, and I liked that,” he said. “I think coach Gregory can do some great things at William Blount. He knows what he’s doing.”
The credit, Gregory countered, is due a gritty collection of Governors who simply hung tough.