By Rob Schabert, TTU Sports Information Director
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech offense just added another dimension with the transfer of runningback Willie Davis, a product of Stephenson High School in Lithonia, Ga., who was the third-leading rusher last year as a sophomore for the University of South Florida Bulls.
Davis, a 5-foot-9, 213-pound bulldozer of a runner, is the younger brother of former Golden Eagle All-American receiver Tim Benford, currently with the Dallas Cowboys organization.
"We're very excited to get Willie," head coach Watson Brown said. "He's the type of back we're hunting for to become 'the guy'. We needed a tough guy in the backfield and we believe he will add that right away. It's so special that we can bring in a guy that is family with Tim and already has a feel for our program."
He sat out the 2011 season as a redshirt at USF then saw action in seven games during the 2012 season, getting two carries for seven yards.
Last year Davis appeared in 11 games for the Bulls and ranked third on the team with 142 yards on 39 carries. He had carries in six games, and posted six-or-more carries in five games. He also caught passes in four consecutive contests.
His career-best game netted 38 yards in eight carries against UConn on Oct. 12, including a 16-yard carry from the USF goal line on a third-and-long. He had 22 yards on six carries and caught two passes for 15 yards at Houston (Oct. 31), and tied his career-best with 38 yards on six carries against Memphis (Nov. 16), adding two catches against the Tigers for 13 yards. Against No. 18 Louisville, Davis had 14 rushing yards on eight carries, and caught a 16-yard pass against the Cards.
Prior to USF, Davis was an all-state selection and region MVP for coach Ron Gartrell at Stephenson High School. As a senior, he posted over 1,300 yards and scored 22 touchdowns, while catching 21 passes for 175 yards and four scores. As a junior he rushed for nearly 700 yards and three touchdowns while playing in just six games.
"We haven't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Dontey Gay," Brown added. "Durability is a huge part of that. In our system, 'the guy' has to be tough because he blocks and carries the ball. Willie has these qualities and we can't wait to get him on the field."
Davis is eligible to play immediately for the Golden Eagles, with two seasons of eligibility remaining.