football Edit

Ex-Ohio State DB Davis To Join Dukes

HS Coach Sawyer Says Davis Will Transfer To JMU

Wayne Davis (15) makes a tackle during Ohio State's Scarlet and Gray Spring Game last month in Columbus, Ohio.
Associated Press

HARRISONBURG – To upgrade its secondary, James Madison is adding former Ohio State defensive back Wayne Davis.

Davis will transfer to JMU, according to his high school coach Hank Sawyer at Lake Taylor in Norfolk.

“He’s coming,” Sawyer said Friday by phone. “They got to make sure the paperwork is straight, which it is because he got his release from Ohio State.

“The good thing about James Madison is it’s an awesome school and an awesome program and the fact that they’re [FCS] means he’s eligible right away.”

JMU coach Mike Houston can’t comment on athletes who aren’t enrolled yet, due to NCAA rules. A message left for Davis wasn’t returned.

Sawyer said Davis plans to arrive in Harrisonburg on June 4 for summer classes.

At Lake Taylor, Davis was Virginia’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior and selected as a 4A All-State choice at defensive back and receiver. He was a consensus four-star prospect and held offers from 17 different schools including Auburn, Clemson, JMU, Michigan and Virginia Tech before inking with the Buckeyes.

After redshirting in 2016 and not seeing game action this past fall, Davis has three years of eligibility remaining to play at JMU. Sawyer said Davis “got caught up in a numbers game” at Ohio State.

“When Wayne left Ohio State, to be honest with you, [JMU] was his first choice, and he was already sold on it,” Sawyer said. “He did his homework.

“… And just to give you an idea, I entertained over 40 calls once the word hit that he was leaving Ohio State. They were blowing my phone up, and the thing is by him being at Ohio State for two years, all the Division I schools were pretty much out, except the [FCS] because he wanted to play right away. He didn’t want to sit at all.”

Sawyer said his Lake Taylor players are regulars are JMU’s summer camps, which has led to a strong trust between the Dukes staff, Sawyer and his players. Sawyer said he’s taking 25 to 30 players from his current roster to camp at JMU on June 16.

JMU redshirt freshman linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey played for Sawyer alongside Davis at Lake Taylor.

“Tucker-Dorsey and Wayne were phenomenal together,” Sawyer said. “And they’re looking forward to having that relationship again. It’s always good to have someone from your hometown team.”

It’s possible Davis slides in and starts at safety for the Dukes this fall as the team tries to replace a pair of former All-Americans – Jordan Brown and Raven Greene – at the position.

Brown led the FCS with nine interceptions this past season and Greene finished as JMU’s career leader for interceptions with 14. The duo also combined for 158 tackles in 2017.

“One of the best open field tacklers that I’ve ever coached,” Sawyer said of Davis. “And at corner for me, he’d shut down anybody. He’s a gamer and when the lights go on, he’s going to make plays.”

Sawyer said Davis, a former team captain at Lake Taylor, also brings an attitude Houston will appreciate.

“Wayne is a steal for James Madison because he already understands team, team, team,” Sawyer said.

Lake Taylor won a state title and finished as a runner-up with Davis on the squad. In total, Lake Taylor has two state titles, three regional championships and 16 district championships.

“The kids have won a lot of games for us, so they know how to win,” Sawyer said. “Wayne and Tucker-Dorsey, both of them are a big part of that.”

Sawyer added he thinks Tucker-Dorsey will see playing time at JMU this season, too.

“He was vicious,” Sawyer said. “He knocked off 11 helmets in one season and he’s just a vicious hitter.

“Tucker-Dorsey just made plays and made plays without even thinking about it. He’s ready to get on the field.”