Aug. 19, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Bruce Davis didn't realize that a September nudge in the back would have such a big impact on his football career. Now the 6-foot, 232-pound senior from Cleveland is healthy and adding depth to the linebacker position at the University of Iowa.
It was Sept. 18, 2010, on a kickoff at Arizona when Davis was turning his body while trying to stop. A bump in the back was all it took to tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and end his season after compiling five tackles.
"A freak accident and there goes the season," Davis said. "I've been missing it all year and I'm excited. We'll see what the new year holds."
Davis breaks preseason camp listed as the No. 2 Mike linebacker behind sophomore James Morris. The return of Davis from a knee injury -- as well as senior outside linebacker Tyler Nielsen from a neck injury -- is a bonus for the Hawkeyes who lost sophomore Will linebacker Shane DiBona with an Achilles tendon injury in early August.
"I'm ready to go," Davis said. "I've been working hard all offseason, ready to help the team the best I can and I'm ready to get back playing at a high level and give it my all. I feel healthy, I feel 100 percent."
It appeared Davis was ready to move into a more prominent role with the Hawkeyes after making 14 tackles as a sophomore. Now healthy, Iowa will lean on his experience and leadership.
"He's ready to go, both mentally and physically," UI linebackers coach Darrell Wilson said. "It's so important to have Bruce back from a depth perspective. We're going to put the best three out there, so we'll get him going. If he ends up being a starter, great; if not, we have a good, solid backup."
This is the final season for Davis, who was named co-Ohio defensive Player of the Year after a stellar 2006 season at Glenville High School.
"Gotta go," Davis said of his last campaign. "But at the end of the day, it's about the team and I don't want to go out without having a good season. You want to do everything you can to help the team by having a positive attitude and doing what you can."
Although the Hawkeyes end camp following Friday's scrimmage (the 18th practice of the preseason), there is still a full week before the team begins "game week" on Aug. 30. Iowa kicks off the 2011 season against Tennessee Tech on Sept. 3 with an 11 a.m. start inside Kinnick Stadium. The Golden Eagles ran the ball nearly 65 percent of the time a year ago, a statistic that plays into Davis's strength.
"He's explosive and he does a very good job in the run game," Wilson said.
Sophomores Christian Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens and Dakota Getz join Davis, Morris and Nielsen on the preseason two-deep chart. It's a group Davis calls a "pretty good unit"...if it remains injury-free...and plays Hawkeye football.
"I want to lead by example and show what it means to be a Hawkeye," Davis said. "That means doing anything to help the team."