When coaches recruiting Mikell Lands-Davis tried to persuade him to reconsider his commitment to Georgia Tech, he said they sometimes relied on the oft-repeated “you can’t go to the NFL playing running back in that offense.”
Lands-Davis, a freshman B-back from Douglasville, was not dissuaded. For one thing, B-backs Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen were both drafted prior to his signing, and Synjyn Davys and Zach Laskey both signed NFL contracts in May.
“I think, personally, it depends on you,” Lands-Davis said. “You’re not going to the league just because of what school you go to. It just depends on you.”
To that end, with a considerable opportunity awaiting him at the position, Lands-Davis intends to make the most of it.
“The way I was looking at it, if I play all four years, I’ll most likely go to the league,” he said.
After spring-practice injuries to C.J. Leggett and Quaide Weimerskirch, B-back figures to be one of the most competitive spots in preseason camp. Marcus Allen will start out at No. 1. The competition will include Lands-Davis, fellow first-year freshman Marcus Marshall and graduate transfer Patrick Skov.
“My goal is to start, but the main goal is to win,” Lands-Davis said. “Most likely, I hope I’m going to be in the rotation starting out. I want to start, but it’s whatever Coach (Paul Johnson) feels like is the best for me to play or start or whatever I can do to help the team.”
Lands-Davis’ eagerness is a considerable departure from his initial opinion about Tech, which was that he had little interest. His perspective was changed on a visit he took with a teammate from Alexander High, Taylor Schartle. Lands-Davis said he was mostly tagging along with Schartle, who was trying to get a spot on the team as a preferred walk-on. (Schartle ended up at Louisiana-Lafayette, but later left, according to Lands-Davis.)
But, while he was there, Tech coaches put a hard sell on Lands-Davis. He said they showed him, among other things, a recruiting board that had him listed as their No. 1 B-back target. Linebackers coach Andy McCollum, who was Lands-Davis’ principal recruiter, helped with consistent attention.
“I just felt like they really wanted me,” Lands-Davis said. “Some other schools were, like, they talked to you every once in a while or they were offering a whole bunch of other guys.”
He ultimately committed last June, picking Tech over Clemson, N.C. State and Wisconsin.
“One in six graduates is a millionaire, and the education is great,” Lands-Davis said, citing the statistic proudly trumpeted by the school (which it appears comes from a survey whose results appeared in a Tech alumni magazine in 2005). “If I stay in Georgia after football, I’ll have lots of connections.”
Not surprisingly, he likes the fit of the offense and his opportunity to play over his four seasons.
“It’s north-south,” he said of the B-back position. “That’s what I’ve always done best, north-south running. In high school, I was really good at making the first man miss, so I feel like if I make the first man miss, in this offense you don’t know what can happen.”
1.Listed at 205 on signing day, Lands-Davis said prior to enrolling that he was now 215. He said that near the end of the school year, B-backs coach Bryan Cook paid him a visit at school and Lands-Davis said he could get up to 220 without trouble.
“He said he doesn’t really need the biggest back,” Lands-Davis said. “He just wants me to make plays and use my speed.”
2. Lands-Davis’ first name is pronounced “mih-KELL.”
3. Two things, prior to his enrollment, that he said he would make sure to bring with him – his Iphone and his LeSean McCoy Fathead poster. Said Lands-Davis of McCoy, “He’s just so much different from everybody in the NFL. It’s all big backs. I don’t have a problem with it because I’ll be a big back, but he’s legit. He’s just fun to watch.”
4. Prior to his starting workouts this summer with the team, Lands-Davis said that Tech walk-on wide receiver Brandon Oliver had helped him learn some of the offense. The two are friends from Douglas County.
5. Lands-Davis will wear No. 37, worn for the last four seasons by B-back Zach Laskey.
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