With the most important stretch of the season about to kick in for Michigan State, the 3-1 Spartans will need veteran Felton Davis to be at the top of his game. He’s up for the challenge.
One of the many significant developments during the 2017 turnaround season that ended with a 10-3 record for Michigan State was the emergence of Felton Davis.
As a sophomore during the disastrous 3-9 season of 2016, Davis had a modest overall stat line – he only played in all twelve games, hauling in 12 catches for 150 yards with one touchdown.
Like all of the Spartans who were determined to show that the 2016 season was the exception and not the rule for the Michigan State program, Davis dedicated himself to getting stronger, focusing more on the fundamentals related to becoming a difference-making type of wide receiver, and improving on his ability to gain more yards after catches.
The results over the course of the 2017 season for Davis spoke for themselves:
Over 11 games, Davis caught 55 passes for 776 yards and 9 touchdowns.
He averaged 14.1 yards per catch and he established himself as a leader and star on the team, earned All Big Ten honors (Second Team by the media, Third Team by the coaches), and a potential NFL Draft pick after he completes his senior season.
Through four games this season, Davis is showing that he’s determined, focused, and intent on making the plays that can lead the Spartans to a Big Ten Championship.
His acrobatic – and crucial – 31-yard catch along the sideline on Michigan State’s game-winning drive against Utah State in the season opener was an immediate demonstration to the Spartans that Davis can be counted on to make the big plays with the game on the line.
Davis’s numbers so far this season look good: 16 receptions, 278 yards and a touchdown. But, perhaps the most important illustration of growth and strength that is enhancing Davis’s game and the way he contributes to Michigan State’s chances is the yards per catch stat – he’s averaging 17.4 yards this season compared to 14.1 yards per catch last year.
That’s a big three-yard jump for him and the Spartans.
And with the beefy part of the Spartans’ schedule about to kick in and the injuries mounting up and down the Spartan roster – particularly with the wide receivers – Michigan State needs Davis now more than ever.
“He can be a very physical and dominant guy, but he’s got to be able to sustain it,” Spartan receivers coach Terrence Samuel said of Davis. “Sometimes strength is not just being in the weight room and being able to push a guy around. It’s being able to last the entire season.”
Since we’re taking a game-by-game approach all season long here at SpartansWire, we’ll say it this way – Michigan State needs Davis this Saturday against Northwestern.
Cody White has been in the process of exploding into yet another star Spartan wide receiver. For White, the frustration that goes along with the broken hand he suffered this past Saturday against Central Michigan is real and extreme – however, White knows he has at least two more seasons after this one (if White doesn’t play in another game this season, he’ll be eligible for a redshirt under the NCAA’s new rules).
For Felton Davis, this is it for him as a Spartan.
However, the Cody White status is a major component that factors into the way Davis will need to be ready to lead and perform over the next stretch of games for the Spartans – but, again, most importantly Cody White’s injury means that Davis will be needed more than ever against Northwestern.
Cody White and Davis two had become a powerful tandem and forced defenses to respect both options for Brian Lewerke.
Darrell Stewart’s injury appears to be one that will allow him to get back onto the field this Saturday.
Cam Chambers is expected to return to the field this week, too.
And Jalen Nailor should be back out there, as well – and much is now expected of the speedster after his performance against Indiana.
But when the chips are down and Michigan State must have a 3rd down conversion or must have six points rather than three when deep inside the redzone, it’s going to be Felton Davis to whom Lewerke and the Spartans will look.
He’s worked hard to get to this point and Davis is on the verge of confirming what many had thought entering this season.
Many – including SpartansWire – have seen Felton Davis as a difference maker and a star who can carry the Spartans on his back, if necessary.
It might not be totally necessary for Davis and Davis alone to carry the Spartans on his back – but it’s time for him to keep his trajectory going so that he’s a consistent option, a reliable playmaker, and the guy the Spartans can count on when the chips are down.
Felton has a great opportunity to show he’s all of those things this Saturday against Northwestern at Spartan Stadium.