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One of the quickest cornerbacks in the country, Davis is regarded as the Atlantic Coast Conference's top man coverage defender. He has drawn comparisons to former Clemson standout Tye Hill, according to opposing ACC coaches, for his ability to instantly change direction and close on the ball with suddenness. He has not only used his impressive quickness and leaping ability to excel on the football field, but was also a productive performer on the Wolfpack's track team.
Davis was a Parade All-American cornerback at North Durham High School during his senior year, where he also competed as a receiver. Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report, a scouting service that also awarded Davis with first-team All-American honors, ranked him the top cornerback in the nation. The North Carolina High School Athletics Association named him North Carolina's Male High School Athlete of the Year.
TheInsiders.com rated Davis the 24th-best prospect in the nation, regardless of position and Prep Star/CBS SportsLine accorded him Top 125 Dream Team accolades as the third-best defensive back in the nation and the best defensive back in the Atlantic region. At the U.S. Army All-American Game, Davis was timed as the contest's fastest player, boasting a 4.28-second timing in the 40-yard dash. Rivals.com rated Davis the sixth-best cornerback in the national high school ranks.
Davis had 42 receptions for 709 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior. He also returned three kicks for touchdowns. At cornerback, he intercepted two passes and recorded 57 tackles as a senior. During his career, he registered six interceptions, as three were returned for touchdowns. As a junior, he caught 30 passes for 700 yards and 18 touchdowns and returned four punts for scores (three in one game vs. Orange County). In track, Davis set the state record in the long jump with a 24'10" leap. He was the 2002 NC Indoor Champion in the triple jump (48'1") and the long jump (24-0.5).
Davis enrolled at North Carolina State in 2002. He was scheduled to line up second on the depth chart at left cornerback, but he fractured his right fibula in the Wolfpack's second preseason scrimmage on Aug. 14th and underwent surgery the next week. Davis would then spend the season rehabilitating while competing on the scout team as a medical hardship.
As a redshirt freshman in 2003, Davis competed in 13 games, logging action in 403 plays. He recorded 34 tackles (25 solos) with a stop behind the line of scrimmage and a forced fumble. He deflected nine passes and intercepted two others. He posted six solo hits on special teams, where he also gained 130 yards on seven kickoff returns (18.6 avg). His coming out party was the Tangerine Bowl vs. Kansas, as he registered six tackles with an interception, three pass deflections and five kickoff returns for 108 yards, including two long runbacks that led to a pair of NC State touchdowns.
Davis played in every game, starting vs. Clemson in 2004. He appeared in 365 plays, making 34 tackles (30 solos) with three more stops on special teams. He batted away six passes and recovered an onside kickoff for a 9-yard return while earning team Most Dependable Cornerback honors. He also competed on the school's 2004 indoor and outdoor track teams, where he finished fourth in the indoor long jump (23'8-1/4"), fourth in the indoor high jump (6'9"), third in the outdoor long jump (24'1/4") and seventh in the outdoor high jump (6'6").
Davis took over left cornerback duties for the Wolfpack in 2005. He was on the field for 748 plays, totaling 54 tackles (31 solos) with a 5-yard sack, 10 pass break-ups and a pair of interceptions. He was penalized nine times for pass interference, but allowed opposing receivers to catch only 25 passes in 12 contests.
Davis was sidelined after playing in only 11 snaps vs. Appalachian State in the 2006 season opener due to a hamstring injury that kept him out of the next two contests vs. Akron and Southern Mississippi. The opposition averaged 224.0 yards passing vs. State with Davis out of the lineup. He returned to action vs. Boston College and produced 12 tackles (8 solos) with five pass deflections and assisted on a stop behind the line of scrimmage, as his main pass coverage assignment managed only four catches for 46 yards. With Davis on the field, the Wolfpack secondary allowed only 147.0 yards per game passing.
In 40 games at North Carolina State, Davis started 16 times. He participated in 1,675 plays, recording 135 tackles (104 solos) with 1.5 sacks for minus-7 yards and five stops for losses of 14 yards. Thirty-six of his tackles came vs. the run, while 29 of his hits were produced on third-down plays. He added nine tackles (8 solos) on special teams and returned seven kickoffs for 130 yards (18.6 avg). He deflected 30 passes for his career, and in 17 games as a starter he prevented his main pass coverage assignment from getting to 26 other throws, including 10 on third-down plays. Davis gained 111 yards (27.8 avg) on four interception returns and 130 yards (18.6 avg) on seven kickoff returns.
Positives: Has exceptional quickness and good lateral range...Shows above average leaping ability that he uses effectively to win most jump ball battles...Has loose hips to come out of his backpedal smoothly and does a very good job of flipping his hips to maintain relationship with the receiver throughout the routes...His agility and flexibility lets him stick tight with the receiver and despite his short arms, he is very capable of riding up his opponent to get to the ball at its high point...Alert to blocking schemes and it is rare to see him bite on head fakes or pump action by the quarterback...Quick to recognize the play developing and unlike most young cornerbacks, he will not eye the quarterback long, rather using his hand/eye coordination to mirror his coverage assignment throughout the route...Has that sudden burst to recover when a receiver manages to slip past him on crossing routes...Demonstrates the loose hips to come out of his breaks cleanly and has that quick change of direction agility to maintain his timed speed without having to throttle down...Has that natural, smooth turn and burst of speed that lets him catch up and close with good urgency...Possesses very good balance and body control in his pedal...Quick and smooth through transition and does a good job of distributing his weight to turn and run on the ball...Takes a quick pitter-patter approach in his pedal with very good heel pivot motion...Can sink his hips to turn and has very good balance coming out of his breaks...Is a master at reading the receiver's eyes and hips to maintain relationship in the route...Has excellent leaping ability and timing to know when to go vertical and beat the taller receiver for the ball at its high point...Rarely lets the receiver separate from him after the catch and even when that happens, he has the second gear and ability to take proper angles to shorten the field and close...Not only gets very good elevation, but he times his leaps to get to the ball at its highest point...Has no concerns about getting a piece of the ball when matching up against the taller receivers, sort of relishing the challenge of taking the vertical route to make the play while giving up considerable inches in height in the process...Much better making plays in space, where he can take angles to close...When taking on receivers, he will produce better pop than when having to square up at the line of scrimmage.
Negatives: Could be a little more physical in his tackles vs. the run, but he does like to hit and while he's not a trained killer, he has the decent force behind his strikes to bring the ball carrier down...Won't see him be effective playing the press due to his size and short arms, but you will also rarely see him get burned or caught out of position due to his closing burst, acceleration and feel for the ball in flight...When he gets too aggressive in attempts to jam and reroute, needing to do a better job of taking arm swipes to prevent from getting knocked off-balance or losing a step when trying to get back into the play... Will get a little sloppy handling the switch-off when working in zone coverage, needing to compensate by using his burst to recover...Best served playing off the line, as he will have problems combating the receiver's arm-over action that his opponent knows he can use to escape Davis' attempts to jam...If an opponent latches onto Davis at the line of scrimmage, even with his good strength, he will struggle to disengage and get off blocks quick enough to make plays vs. the run inside the box...Will hit with good force, but is a low tackler who prefers to throw the shoulder and tends to lower his head to take down the opponent, causing some to just sidestep his attempted tackle.
In 1,675 snaps, Davis did not allow an opposing receiver to catch a touchdown pass... He produced 36 plays vs. the run and 172 vs. the pass...Davis registered 29 third-down stops in 40 games...He is tied with Jesse Campbell (1988-90), Michael Brooks (1985-88) and Donnie LeGrande (1978-79) for sixth on the school's career-record list with 30 pass deflections, topped only by Joe Johnson (51, 1987-90), Tony Scott (45, 1996-99), Lloyd Harrison (40, 1996-99), Nelson Jones (34, 1983-86) and Lamont Reid (32, 2001-04).
All-American third-team and All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team preseason choice by The NFL Draft Report...Rated the best man coverage cornerback in the South by that scouting service...A hamstring strain in the season opener vs. Appalachian State limited Davis to eleven plays in that game and forced him to sit out the next two contests vs. Akron and Southern Mississippi before returning to action at left cornerback...Produced twelve tackles (8 solos) with five pass deflections and assisted on a stop behind the line of scrimmage...His main coverage assignment managed to catch only two passes vs. A.J. for a total of 38 yards...In addition to his five pass break-ups, his tight coverage ability prevented his assignment from catching thirteen other passes thrown to them, including one on a third-down play...With Davis sidelined, the Wolfpack allowed the opponents to average 224.0 yards passing per game, compared to an average of 147.0 yards with A.J. in the lineup...Against 23 passes thrown in his area, opponents averaged only 1.65 yards per pass attempt...His yards per attempt average is the lowest of any Division 1-A starting cornerback.
Moved into the starting lineup at left cornerback, participating in 748 plays...Recorded a career-high 55 tackles (41 solos) with a 5-yard sack and 1.5 stops for losses of 7 yards... Ranked second on the team with ten pass deflections and gained 46 yards on a pair of interception returns...Made 70 plays vs. the pass and 14 vs. the run...Registered nine third-down stops, but was also penalized nine times...Allowed only 25 receptions by opposing receivers in twelve contests...Did not allow any touchdown catches...Helped the defense rank eighth in the nation in passing efficiency (101.34) and eighth in total defense (298.67 ypg)...Earned Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in the Florida State clash, adding Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Back of the Week accolades for that effort...Of the 55 passes thrown into his area, opponents averaged 9.69 yards per pass attempt.
Named the team's Most Dependable Cornerback...Played in every game, starting the Clemson contest as he participated in 365 snaps as the "fifth man" in the Wolfpack secondary...Registered 34 tackles (30 solos) with an assisted sack for minus 2 yards and two stops for losses of 3 yards...Also had six pass deflections...Added three tackles (2 solos) and a 9-yard kickoff return on special teams...Made 11 plays vs. the run and 29 vs. the pass, as he collected ten third-down tackles.
Appeared in thirteen games as a redshirt freshman...Despite being listed second on the depth chart at left cornerback, Davis finished second on the team with nine deflected passes and also intercepted two others for 65 yards in returns...Participated in 403 plays, adding a stop for a 3-yard loss and a forced fumble...Posted six solo tackles and gained 121 yards on six kickoff returns (20.2 avg)...Made 37 of his plays vs. the pass and came up with eight third-down tackles...Was also penalized twice.
2003 GAME HIGHLIGHTS Western Carolina...Davis was one of eighteen Wolfpack players to made their collegiate debut in this game (joining Leroy Harris, Mario Williams, DeMarcus "Tank" Tyler, Larmart Barrett, Tramain Hall, Maurice Charles, John Deraney, Stephen Tulluch, John McCargo, Pat Lowery, Ernest Jones, Garland Heath, Chris Hawkins, Fred Span, Casey Dimeo, Padowithz Alce and James Martin)...Participated in 29 snaps, recording three solo tackles, including one that stopped L.J. Williams for a 3-yard loss on a second quarter pass from QB Brian Gaither...Davis later made a fourth-down stop with 2:39 left in the first half when he brought down Lamont Seward after a short toss from Gaither that netted 10 yards.
Wake Forest...Only played in ten snaps, taking down Chris Davis on a 12-yard kickoff return with 2:03 left in the second quarter.
Ohio State...Did not record any tackles, but Davis intercepted his first career pass when he stepped in front of a deep throw by QB Craig Krenzel and raced down the left sideline for a 17-yard return to the Buckeyes 29. Four plays later, NC State settled for an Adam Kiker 24-yard field goal that made the score, 24-17 for OSU with 5:51 showing on the clock. Texas Tech...His only tackle stopped receiver Carlos Francis for no gain on a second quarter pass from QB B.J. Symons...Davis later batted away a Symons pass that was intended for Joel Filani with 6:05 remaining in the game...Finished the game with a season-high 60 plays of action.
North Carolina...Posted four tackles (3 solos) with a pass deflection, taking down tailback Willie Parker on a third-and-4 toss from QB Darian Durant that netted 11 yards on the game's opening drive...Davis would later cause a fumble when he stripped the ball from Durant on a third-and-1 bootleg with 2:31 left in the first half...A.J. was flagged for grabbing the face mask of receiver Jawarski Pollock at the start of the fourth quarter, but made up for that miscue on the following play when he deflected a pass and then stopped Mike Mason after a 9-yard gain on a toss from Durant.
Georgia Tech...Davis' only tackle came on the game's opening kickoff, when he stopped Kenny Scott after a 31-yard runback.
Connecticut...Made four tackles (2 solos) and deflected a pass, killing a drive with 3:50 left to play when he leveled receiver Keron Henry after a 7-yard gain on a third-and-12 toss from QB Dan Orlovsky.
Clemson...Teamed with defensive end Mario Williams to tackle Justin Miller on a 32-yard kickoff return at the end of the first quarter.
Duke...Posted three tackles (2 solos), including one on a third-down play and batted away one pass.
Virginia...Had four solo tackles and returned a kickoff 13 yards.
Florida State...Deflected two passes and was in on a pair of solo tackles.
Maryland...Collected three tackles (2 solos), but was penalized for pass interference in the end zone, setting up a 2-yard touchdown run by Terps QB Scott McBrien that gave the Wolfpack a slim 24-23 lead, after Maryland kicker Nick Novack hooked his PAT attempt wide-left following a high snap.
Kansas (Tangerine Bowl)...The postseason was Davis' "coming out party" for the nation to see, as he played a huge role in the team's 56-26 victory. The redshirt freshman came up with six tackles (4 solos) on 40 plays, as he also deflected three passes, intercepted another for a 46-yard return and set up several scoring drive when he took over kickoff return duties and totaled 108 yards on five attempts...Davis took the game's opening kickoff back 33 yards and QB Philip Rivers then threw a 45-yard scoring strike to Richard Washington with only 1:02 having ticked off the clock...On the Jayhawks' first drive of the game following the State touchdown, Davis tackled receiver Brandon Rideau after catches of 19 & 13 yards on back-to-back plays...Davis returned another first quarter kickoff 28 yards and Rivers again hit Washington with a 14-yard scoring strike to cap the drive... A.J. then performed magic on the kickoff coverage unit, chasing down John Randle on a 37-yard return after River's second touchdown pass...At the start of the second quarter, Davis took down QB Bill Whittemore on a 13-yard naked bootleg. Six plays later, Davis intercepted Whittemore's pass at the State 13-yard line, returning the ball 48 yards...At the start of the second half, Davis out-leaped Brandon Rideau to knock down a Whittemore pass intended for the Jayhawks receiver. Later in the third quarter, Davis would again deflect a Whittemore pass intended for Charles Gordon...At the start of the fourth quarter, Davis' 31-yard kickoff return set up Rivers; 21-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Crotchery to give State a 49-26 lead...On the ensuing kickoff, A,J. tackled the Jayhawks' Greg Heaggans on a 31-yard return.
Davis was granted a medical hardship after he fractured his right fibula in the Wolfpack's second preseason scrimmage on August 14th and underwent surgery the next week...He had nine tackles and a stop for a loss in the one and a half scrimmages in which he competed...Was listed as the backup at left corner before the injury.
Davis lettered twice on the Wolfpack track team...In 2005, he competed in the long jump at two indoor meets, attaining a leap of 22'11", good for fourth place, at the Clemson Invitational...He competed with the Wolfpack track teams at the 2004 ACC Indoor and Outdoor Championships, where he finished fourth in the indoor long jump (23'8-1/4"), fourth in the indoor high jump (6'9"), third in the outdoor long jump (24'1/4") and seventh in the outdoor high jump (6'6").
2002: Did not play during the season after suffering a right fibula fracture on Aug. 14th in a scrimmage and underwent surgery one week later.
AGILITY TEST Campus: 4.28 in the 40-yard dash...39-inch vertical jump...10'6" broad jump...24'10" long jump...330-pound bench press...365-pound power clean...10.56 100-meter dash...30-inch arm length...8 1/8-inch hands...Left-handed...18/23 Wonderlic score.
Attended Northern Durham (N.C.) High School, playing football for head coach Gary Merrill...Parade All-American cornerback during his senior year, where he also competed as a receiver...Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report, a scouting service that also awarded Davis with first-team All-American honors, ranked him the top cornerback in the nation... The North Carolina High School Athletics Association named him North Carolina's Male High School Athlete of the Year...TheInsiders.com rated A.J. the 24th-best prospect in the nation, regardless of position and Prep Star/CBS SportsLine accorded him Top 125 Dream Team accolades as the third-best defensive back in the nation and the best defensive back in the Atlantic region...At the U.S. Army All-American Game, Davis was timed as the contest's fastest player, boasting a 4.28 timing in the 40-yard dash...Rivals.com rated Davis the sixth-best cornerback in the national high school ranks...Had 42 receptions for 709 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior...Also returned three kicks for touchdowns...At cornerback, he intercepted two passes and recorded 57 tackles as a senior...During his career, he registered six interceptions, as three were returned for touchdowns...As a junior, he caught 30 passes for 700 yards and 18 touchdowns and returned four punts for scores (three in one game vs. Orange County)...In track, Davis set the state record in the long jump with a 24'10" leap...Was the 2002 NC Indoor Champion in the triple jump (48'1") and the long jump (24-0.5).
Communications major, with an emphasis on Media...Born 5/29/83...Resides in Durham, North Carolina.
Draft Scout Player News
12/31/12 - CB A.J. Davis was signed from the Saints' practice squad to take the roster spot of Pierre Thomas after he was put on injured reserve.
12/31/12 - CB A.J. Davis was signed from the Saints' practice squad on Saturday to take the roster spot of Pierre Thomas.
11/07/12 - CB A.J. Davis, an undrafted free agent who was with the Saints in training camp, was signed to the practice squad.
08/18/12 - CB A.J. Davis was waived from erserve/injured by the Saints Friday with an injury settlement.
08/13/12 - CB A.J. Davis cleared waivers monday and was placed on reserve/injured by the Saints.