Football is suppose to be fun.
Growing up as a child, playing little league football, then junior high and high school ball, it’s a sport that most grew up loving.
Often times coaches at different levels forget this, one Arkansas State University red-shirt senior is now remembering what it was like when he was younger when he was having fun playing football.
Red Wolf senior linebacker Demario Davis is excited about his last season in Jonesboro more this fall than he has ever before.
Heading into his last season Davis is already racking up some personal accolades, he recently was named to the Lombardi Trophy Watch list for being the best linebacker in college football.
Davis is quick to point out in this interview, all his focus is on team oriented goals, he will let the other stuff take care of itself.
There is a new excitement, a new energy around the Red Wolves Football program, something that has Davis excited about football more than he has been in several years.
Davis has a new defensive coordinator in Dave Womack, it appears that Davis is just what the doctor ordered on the defensive side of the ball.
“In this new defense it frees us up a lot,” Davis told AStateNation.com. “We aren’t force to just play a position and be locked into a certain fit, we are now free to roam the field and make plays. There are a lot of changes, it’s like night and day differences. It’s like letting out a wild animal out of his cage.”
According to Davis, Womack is all about an athlete using his god given talents and his football instincts he learned over the years playing the game that they grew up loving.
“I love this type of system,” Davis said. “Coach Womack is constantly pushing us about fixing the small things, teaching us on how to win the little battles everyday.”
Womack appears to be a believer in letting playmakers make big plays in his defensive system.
“Coach Womack wants us to use our instincts, he wants us to be able to make plays,” Davis said. “This allows to have a bigger impact the ability to make a lot of plays.”
Davis has been impressed with Womack’s arrival and his new system.
“He is one of the greatest coaches I have ever had,” Davis said. His door is always open. He wants you to come in and talk to him about anything. He has great relationships with his players on and off the field. I’m excited about football again, I’m very excited about playing for him this fall.”
Davis is also very excited about the new direction that new Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze has brought to the Red Wolf Football Program.
“The difference are really like night and day,” Davis said. “Everything is different. Coach Freeze brightens everything he touches. He has brought so much energy to this program.”
Davis and his fellow teammates loves the passion that Freeze brings to Red Wolf Football.
“He is so passionate about everything he does,” Davis said. “It’s not a fake passion, it’s real. He teaches us about family, relationships, he shares his faith in God and that helps us keep our faith in check.”
It’s quite evident that family is very important to Freeze and his football team.
“He has taught us to be accountable to each other,” Davis said. “He has taught us to love our teammates as our brothers. He has made me love football again. We know it’s not personal when he gets on us, we know he loves us.”
Davis feels that this team’s chemistry is the best it has been since his arrival to Jonesboro in 2006.
“We are a lot farther along in that area than we have been since I have been here,” Davis said. “We have a great senior class, there 18 or 19 of us here. Our senior leadership is going to help us a lot in different ways.”
Davis will be the first to admit that with leadership comes a lot of responsibility.
“I have to perform at a high level in every ballgame,” Davis said. “With leadership comes responsibility. I can’t ask my guys to perform if I don’t perform at the highest level. I have to set the tempo and the pace for the defense this fall.”
According to Davis, hard work has never been an issue in Jonesboro.
“We have always been a very hard working team,” Davis said. “Hard work hasn’t been the issue. We never focused on doing the little things right all the time. We are all keeping everyone accountable.”
Davis and his teammates have high expectations for his last year in Jonesboro.
“We have to win a Sun Belt Conference Championship,” Davis said. “We aren’t just saying we have to win one, it’s not optional. With the offense coming back intact from last year, our defense knows we have to step it up and make the difference. We know we are capable and I plan on leading this defense back to where it belongs.”
No matter how this season ends up, one thing is for, a lot of players are loving football again, some for the first time in a long time.
Things are definitely different at Arkansas State this fall.