Hard work key to Davis’ record-breaking season

Published 3:34 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2023

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He’s been named a second-team all-American by Sports Illustrated and a first-team all-Southeastern Conference running back by the Associated Press and USA Today. He’s also earned an invitation to the East-West Shrine Bowl in Frisco, Texas on Feb. 1st.

Kentucky star Ray Davis knows those honors result from the offseason work he did after transferring from Vanderbilt to Kentucky.

“Truthfully these (honors) were just added motivation because of last season. I was not on any watchlists at Vanderbilt. I was on nothing,” Davis said. “That gave me added motivation to work and be the dominant player I knew I was, but the whole world did not know yet.

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“It was time to wake the world up to who Ray Davis is. All those awards are nice, but for me I was thinking about all those times everyone doubted me. I got the awards because of the work in the summer and trying to show people that I am that player.”

Davis ran for 1,066 yards and 13 touchdowns on 186 carries this season and also had 29 catches for 317 yards and seven scores. He set UK single-season records with 20 touchdowns and 120 points — and led the SEC in both categories.

He previously had 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Temple and Vanderbilt and is the first player in NCAA history to have 1,000-yard rushing seasons at three different schools.

Davis has announced he will end his collegiate career to pursue a chance to play in the NFL. However, he will play in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Dec. 29th in Jacksonville.

“For me it is about finishing what I started. These guys are family for me,” Davis said. “This is a chance to try and hoist another trophy (like UK did with the Governor’s Cup when it beat Louisville).

“It’s a good group and I want to be out there one more time and win and do this for the city of Lexington. I want to come back a year from now and know I have done something for these people.”

Davis said it had been “surreal” from the day he arrived in Lexington and just went to work to show teammates and coaches what he could do.

“The guys kept me humble and in good spirits,” Davis said. “Same thing with the staff. It was a great work environment to be out there having fun and playing the game I always loved since I was 8 years old. I could not walk away.”

It’s no surprise Davis said he will always remember his 280-yard, three-touchdown game against Florida that earned him National Player of the Week honors.

“That’s a performance I never thought of doing, but my O-line and coaches were a big part of that, too,” Davis said.

However, he has other top memories that are not individual performance related.

“The fans, the CatWalk, coming in before (games) and the end of games (leaving the field). These are loyal, die-hard fans who have been consistently coming out to Kroger Field for many years,” Davis said. “I enjoyed being part of that and being out there with teammates accomplishing things.

“We had some down moments and had to see how we would face adversity. Our team never folded and kept attacking.

“I will also always remember BBN being there and sticking with us no matter what.”