Coming back fully healthy from any injury is never easy, but adding expectations on top of it for Tyler Davis only makes the mountain top harder to reach.
Davis was hurt early in 2020 only to return to practice and inherit another; following the second injury, Davis just wasn't the same for the remainder of the year, according to defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
"(Davis) got hurt early last year, came back, got hurt in practice again, and wasn't the same," Venables said after Wednesday's final post-practice media conference of the spring.
"The other is that Tyler's still a young player, so we really worked. Coach (Todd) Bates did a great job of finding ways to get him better. And obviously identifying those things; where we got to play quicker, where we got to be more disruptive, where we got to play more vertical, where we got to play more violent, where we got to prove our pass rush, and where we got to win more one on ones. (Bates) put together a great plan to get those guys better."
Fortunately, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle has progressed way past where he was sitting last year at this time and is prepared to be an irrefutable force alongside Bryan Bresee in a new year, according to Venables.
"Tyler is really, man; he and Bryan have really made great improvements," Venables said. "Bryan was a tremendous talent (as a freshman), and at times, really flashed and was really special. And then other times, he'd be the first to tell you he got humbled and took it on the chin, like all young players. He's at one of the toughest positions for a young player to play at the interior defensive line, and I thought he had a great year.
"But those guys together again, particularly Tyler. In the Ohio State game, when we got knocked off the ball, everybody did; we all got knocked on our butts all night long. So that's been a real focus for Tyler, to be good again, let alone great. We got to play great in the middle, and the defense starts up front. So really proud of the work (Davis) has put in and the self-awareness of where he has to get better. He's put his hard hat on and went to work every day going after it."
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