Armwood senior Torrey Davis is a man among boys, a big-bodied defensive lineman with strength, speed, versatility and the kind of athleticism usually reserved for players half his size.
But it wasn't always that way.
When Davis arrived at football tryouts as a freshman, he was 375 pounds and could barely run one of the 120s -- sprints from the back of one end zone to the back of the other -- coach Sean Callahan likes to employ in the preseason. By the halfway mark, it was no longer a sprint, and Davis was lucky if he was still on his feet. Though quick for a big man, Davis simply didn't have the stamina to keep up.
Three years later, it's like Davis is a different person. Rated Florida's No. 1 defensive player and the nation's No. 11 overall recruit in the Class of 2007 by RISE, Davis is still a hulking presence, but in all the right ways. At 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, Davis is about the size you'd expect from a blue-chip recruit.
And then you see him run. Davis has been clocked at 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a time many prep receivers would envy.
"The thing about Torrey is what he does physically," says Callahan. "(He's) such a big kid that runs so gracefully, so fast. I mean, he's off the charts with that."
His humility is pretty off the charts, too. Asked what he thinks separates him from the pack of other top recruits, Davis offers an understated assessment: "I'm a bit faster than these linemen."
Yeah, Torrey, just a bit.
Players with Davis' attributes don't come along very often, and colleges have responded accordingly. He's been scouted, courted, called, questioned, poked, prodded, pressured -- you name it -- all in an attempt to get him to attend a particular Division I school.
Earlier this year, there was a rumor Davis had committed to Florida State. When it was revealed there had been a misunderstanding, Seminoles fans were displeased to say the least and let their ire be known on the various FSU fan sites and message boards. For Davis, it was an initiation into the world of high-stakes recruiting, where words, even those that go unspoken, can be misconstrued out of want.
"It's hard to tell a coach no," Davis says. "You've got to know what to say and how to put it. I learned a lot."
Davis has since committed to Florida, a decision sure to stoke the fires at future 'Noles/Gators games. Callahan has seen the toll the recruiting process can take on his players. Two years ago, Callahan went through it with Aaron Davis, Torrey's brother, who eventually went to Bowling Green. Both Aaron and Callahan encouraged the younger Davis to end the draining process and make a decision before the start of the 2006 season.
"It's definitely a distraction," Callahan says of the recruiting process. "We made our commitment a week before the first game just so we could focus on our academics and football."