Micah Davis had his Delta State football team 48 yards away from a potential touchdown and the NCAA Division II national championship last December. There were 65 seconds on the clock, and considering that Davis was one of the top signal callers in DII football, punching the ball into the end zone didn’t seem like a stretch against Minnesota-Duluth.

Yet, the lasting image for Davis in 2010 wasn’t a celebration on the turf of Braly Municipal Stadium. It was the interception he threw into the hands of Cody Eich moments later that has haunted him throughout the offseason.

The Bulldogs went on to win the national title on a last-second field goal and Davis has never forgotten the moment that ended the Statesmen’s dream of glory.

“It was heartbreaking,” Davis said. “But we know we killed ourselves with turnovers. The loss has definitely motivated us for this year.”

The pick by Davis was the only one he threw in the game -- the only blemish on an otherwise solid performance in which he completed 24 of 35 passes for 240 yards and two TDs.

On the season, he completed a school-record 65 percent of his passes and shredded opposing defenses for 4,097 yards -- also a school record -- while throwing 33 TDs.

DSU head coach Ron Roberts can't say enough about what Davis was able to accomplish a year ago.

"He is an outstanding college quarterback, and a great leader for the football team," Roberts said. "He is obviously a big reason why we played for a national championship last season."

And Davis is a big reason why the Statesmen are one of the national title favorites this year. DSU, which finished 11-4 last year and became the first unranked team to play for a national title, is No. 2 in the American Football Coaches Association preseason poll.

“... we know we killed ourselves with turnovers. The loss has definitely motivated us for this year.
-- Delta State QB Micah Davis on losing the 2010 championship game

But if Davis is going to give the Statesmen a chance to contend, he'll have to eliminate turnovers. He threw 19 interceptions in 2010.

“I’ve worked a lot on being more consistent and not turning the ball over as much,” Davis said. “I have to get a lot better at taking care of the football and finishing games if we are going to have a chance to be successful.”'

Despite the ending to the season, which went down about as well as a dose of nasty cough medicine, Davis learned a great deal from the title run and is looking forward to his senior season.

“The season was very exciting and I learned so much about playing at this level,” Davis said. “I had a lot of talented players around me, and without them, especially my offensive line, I wouldn’t have had a season like last year.”

But Davis is more than just a star quarterback. Nevermind that he had one of the greatest seasons in school history. He has a special connection to DSU, one that helped sway his decision on where he was going to continue his college career after playing two years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. His dad played defensive back for the Statesmen and his grandfather played football at DSU as well. Davis also had a couple of cousins who played football for Delta State.

So wearing a DSU uniform means a little more to Davis. Carrying on a family tradition is something he is proud of.

“It does mean lot to me that other members of my family have played here,” Davis said. “It was one of the reasons I wanted to come to school at Delta State. There is a great atmosphere here. The fans and community are behind you all the way and I have great teammates.”

This fall, Davis’ sister, Ann Shelby, is transferring to DSU to play for the women’s basketball team.

Davis said that he and his sister have always been competitive. Of course, he is always willing to give her pointers on being a college athlete as well.

Elizabeth City State at No. 2 Delta State
Aug. 27 at McCool Stadium
 
Rushing Offense 194.8 175.2
Passing Offense 194.0 277.7
Rushing Defense 134.2 161.5
Passing Defense 178.9 211.2
All statistics are 2010 averages

“We used to play basketball against each other all of the time,” Davis said. “We are very competitive and I’m sure she will do well here. The good thing is that I can help her out if she needs advice about playing a [DII] sport.”

Off the field, Davis is a billboard for what being a college student-athlete is all about.

He majors in chemistry and is planning on going to medical school. In December, he graduated from college and was awarded the Second Diploma, which is given to the transfer student with the highest grade-point average. Davis, who received the DII Elite 88 Award and the National Championship Leadership Award, fashioned a 4.00 at DSU and is taking graduate classes this year.

In May, he was inducted into the DSU Student Hall of Fame, which is the highest honor a student can earn based on accomplishments in all phases of college life.

“My parents pushed me at a young age to do well in school,” Davis said. “I’ve always strived to be successful academically, and my coach always says that if you can do well in school, you are going do well on the field.”

Davis said receiving the Second Diploma was a huge honor, although he didn’t get it in person because he was in a postseason football game the day of graduation.

DSU opens the season Aug. 27 against Elizabeth City State, the first test for a team with big dreams. Every opponent will be gunning for an upset when it takes the field against the Statesmen, which means Davis and his teammates cannot afford to ease off the gas pedal at any point during the season.

“We have to stay humble,” Davis said. “We can’t buy into all of the hype because rankings don’t mean much on the field. You still have to play the games and you have to be ready to play every single week. We know it’s going to take a great effort to get back to where we were last year, but if we stay focused, we’ll be in a position to accomplish our goals.”