'I love hitting': New Lion Jarrad Davis lowers the boom

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Detroit Lions first round draft pick, 21st overall pick, linebacker Jarrad Davis from Florida is introduced Friday at a news conference, with head coach Jim Caldwell and executive vice president and general manager Bob Quinn and president Rod Wood, at the practice facility in Allen Park

Allen Park — How much does Jarrad Davis love to hit? Let him count the ways. Asked to describe the feeling of delivering a big blow on the football field, the new Detroit Lions linebacker turns into something of a human thesaurus.

“It’s an experience that’s unmatched, to be honest with you,” Davis said during his introductory news conference Friday. “I love hitting. I love striking people. I love just exerting force on another person. You can’t do it in any other way. You can’t do it on the street. You can’t do it at anybody’s house. You have to do it within the lines, within the paint. It’s something that I chase while I play the game. I need that.”

After using the team’s first-round draft pick on Davis, the Lions are counting on him to set a physical tone on defense for years to come.

But before the muscle-bound Davis was delivering punishment to opposing running backs, he was a scared 10-year-old kid taking the handoff and questioning what in the world he was doing playing football.

“I was young and my dad introduced me to the game,” Davis said. “It was a game that I was really nervous to play. I loved watching it, loved watching an NFL game, loved watching the college game, loved watching my high school play. And going out there for the first time I was nervous and scared.

“Played running back and loved to run the ball, loved to run away from the defenders. But I got hit one time and after that one time getting hit it’s like, ‘Dang, do I really want to be doing this?’”

But Davis toughed it out and fell in love with the camaraderie of the game. That passion has continued to swell and is apparent to anyone who has interreacted with him. In middle school, he was moved to defense and by high school he developed into a prized recruit.

After four seasons at Florida, he’s eager to embrace his next mission, becoming a key contributor for the Lions.

“I’m honestly extremely excited,” Davis said. “Just to be here and to be with a team like this. You’ve got a great group of guys that I’m looking forward to being able to work with on a daily basis, come to get better and to compete with each and every day, not only to better myself, but better my teammates and better the team as a whole.”

Coach Jim Caldwell, who introduced Davis, said he fits the criteria the team looks for in players — smart, fast and physical.

“In terms of the smart part portion of it, he’s been a guy that’s been a communicator, a great leader of his team, work extremely hard. …He’s a studious individual, really trying to perfect his craft at all times and he plays that ways and it shows.

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“He’s fast. I think the numbers speak for themselves. It’s rare to see a guy with his size and bulk that can move like he moves. He’s a guy that’s versatile. Certainly going to be able to play three downs for us as well, fourth down if we happen to put him on special teams also because he’s capable of that as well.”

Davis’ immediate role with the Lions will be defined by how he performs through the offseason. The plan is to work him both on the weakside and middle linebacker. The rookie doesn’t have a preference.

“I’m just coming in with an open mentality,” Davis said. “I’m coming in to help the Detroit Lions in any way possible. However they want to use me, I’m here.”

Davis will get to work shortly. The Lions will hold rookie minicamp May 12-14.


Twitter: @justin_rogers