Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Michael Davis wore jersey No. 10 when he played three seasons as a standout two-way performer for the Glendale High football team before graduating in 2013.
A little later, Davis adopted No. 15 at Brigham Young University, where he was part of a Cougars program that advanced to bowl games in all four of his years there.
While Davis dons No. 43 entering his third season with the Chargers, the Glendale native also has another strange number attached to him — No. 1.
That’s because Davis entered Chargers’ training camp this summer ranked No. 1 on the depth chart at left cornerback, a position nearly unthinkable for the former practice-squad player.
“It’s a big deal for me,” Davis said during a morning practice recently at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa of his top spot. “It means I’ve been grinding. It means I’ve been working hard and my hard work is paying off.”
Davis’ ascent is as spectacular as it is steep and one he he said doesn’t fully understand.
“To be honest, I don’t know what the secret is,” he said. “I talk to my mom, I talk to my girlfriend every day and they keep me accountable. I think accountability is a big thing.”
He added, “I hold myself to a higher standard than I’m used to and I have to reach that standard. I guess I’m doing it right now.”
In 2016, Davis lost his starting cornerback spot to a freshman midway through his senior season at BYU.
Though Davis said, “That’s all in the past,” it was BYU that helped put him on the map when the graduating senior ran a smoldering 4.34 second 40-yard dash at the school’s pro day in March 2017.
Though Davis went undrafted, he signed a free-agent contract with the Chargers as the team made a move from San Diego to Los Angeles in 2017.
Davis was cut, signed with the practice squad, and saw some action his rookie season, where he finished with 18 tackles, mostly on special teams, and one pass defended.
Last season saw more increased time as Davis tallied 50 tackles, eight passes defended and one forced fumble.
“I think accountability is a big thing. I hold myself to a higher standard than I’m used to and I have to reach that standard. I guess I’m doing it right now.”
Davis played in all 16 regular-season games and two postseason contests with nine starts, beginning Nov. 4 last year when he finished with a season-high nine tackles in Los Angeles’ 25-17 victory at Seattle.
On that day, Davis was filling in for injured Trevor Williams, who is battling Davis for the starting position this year.
Davis’ growth from last year has been noticeable, contends Los Angeles Pro Bowl safety Derwin James.
“I see a guy that’s been working hard, man, a guy who loves football and a guy who just loves to go out and compete,” said James, who is entering his second year with the Chargers. “Since I’ve been here, he’s improved so much and taking the coaching so well.”
Even with the praise, Davis said he knows nothing is guaranteed, including being named a starter before the Chargers’ opener in Carson against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 8.
“It would mean big things,” Davis said of potentially being named the week-one starter. “Out of Glendale High, not a lot of people come out of Glendale. Then, you know, my mom and I, we’ve struggled a lot and for me to come out, that shows that anybody can make it.”
However, the No. 1 has a dual meaning for Davis.
If goal No. 1 is to be named a starter, another might be to record a first career interception.
While Davis has shined during summer workouts, including intercepting Los Angeles Rams starting quarterback Jared Goff on Aug. 3 in a scrimmage, he has not recorded a pick since his senior year at BYU.
“It’s going to take discipline,” Davis said. “I’m obviously getting interceptions in practice and that comes with discipline. Being able to be disciplined throughout into the games, I know it’s coming.”