COSTA MESA — Year No. 2 has been pivotal in the football career of Glendale High’s prestigious alumnus Michael Davis.
Davis saw his first serious action on the Nitros’ varsity team in 2010 as a sophomore, participating in three contests, finishing with 16 tackles, including a season-high nine in a 35-14 loss to rival Crescenta Valley at Moyse Field on Oct. 1.
Fast forward four years, and a wiser and more-seasoned Davis enjoyed another breakout sophomore season, now at defensive back for Division I Brigham Young University. In 2014, Davis tallied career-highs in games played (13) and tackles (43).
That season, BYU finished 8-5 and advanced to the Miami Beach Bowl, where the Cougars lost a double-overtime thriller, 55-48, to Memphis in a contest that infamously ended with an on-field brawl.
Four years later, Davis, now 23, hopes to continue a pattern of breakout efforts as he starts his second training camp with the Los Angeles Chargers at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.
“This year, it’s a lot more edgy,” Davis said after the first summer practice on July 28. “I put a lot more edge on practice, relax when I’m not playing, and stay on the edge when I get on the field.”
Last year, Davis was a fresh-faced youngster looking to make the cut despite seemingly long odds as an undrafted free agent.
This year, the hunt for respect and an increasing amount of playing time continues.
“The difference this year from last is huge,” Davis said. “I’m not doing as much thinking now and it’s more technique. Last year, I was trying to remember the playbook on the fly, the technique on the fly, but this year I know the technique. Now it’s just applying the technique.”
In 2017, Davis impressed at training camp, but bombed in the Chargers’ first preseason contest versus Seattle in which the then-rookie defensive back surrendered several deep receptions in a Seahawks’ 48-17 loss.
On Sept. 2, the Chargers waived Davis only to sign him to the practice squad the following day.
Two weeks later, Davis was called up the day before the second game of the season and made his debut on special teams in Los Angeles’ home opener at the Carson StubHub Center versus the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 17.
Davis was credited with the first of 14 tackles last season as he saw action in 15 of the team’s 16 total games and even returned a pair of kickoffs for 26 yards.
On a Saturday morning in Costa Mesa, Davis is still proving himself as Chargers Pro Bowl quarterback Phillip Rivers throws the first of three passes in Davis’ direction.
The first toss is a perfectly placed ball high up where 6-foot-4 receiver Mike Williams skies over the 6-2 Davis for a catch. The second pass is also a completion as 6-4 receiver Tyrell Williams successfully and, perhaps illegally, pushes off Davis to haul in a 10-yard reception.
On Davis’ third attempt, the second-year player takes advantage of his experience by hitting the hands of Chargers’ rookie receiver Dylan Cantrell right as the ball was about to be caught for break-up.
“It’s a good experience out here,” Davis said. “Sometimes we talk [expletive] to each other, sometimes we have fun. I talk to Mike Williams all the time, Tyrell, too. It’s a lot of fun.”
Davis’ attitude and play have won over at least one teammate.
“Michael Davis is from my year,” Chargers second-year safety Rayshawn Jenkins said. “Michael Davis is one of the most athletic freaks that I’ve played with. He’s fast, he’s tall and he’s the package.”
Fifteen minutes after the conclusion of practice, half of the Chargers’ roster heads to family or back toward the team buses.
Davis, though, is finishing up a 10-minute autograph signing and selfie session with the Chargers’ faithful lined up along the stadium fence.
Though he admits his position is guaranteed, Davis acts like a pro.