Ricky Davis figured he would never play football again.
At a Contra Costa College practice in Week 4 of the 2014 season, the freshman defensive end leaped into the air, only to have an offensive lineman give him a push, causing Davis to land on his left knee and tear his ACL, LCL and meniscus.
“I heard a big pop and I knew something was wrong,” he said. The next day, he saw Oakland Raiders team physician and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Warren Strudwick.
An X-ray and MRI revealed the extent of the injury.
It motivated me.
Fresno City outside linebacker Ricky Davis, on his ACL injury
“He didn’t put no sympathy to it whatsoever,” Davis recalled. “Blatantly told me it was a big issue and you may not be able to play football anymore if you don’t rehab it the right way. It motivated me.”
Davis did the rehab, got better and took one more big step toward resuming his career, transferring to Fresno City College in July 2015. After a redshirt year, Davis is healthy and now a 6-foot-3, 220-pound sophomore starting outside linebacker for the state 10th-ranked Rams, who host No. 6 Santa Rosa at 5 p.m. Saturday.
“He’s a hybrid.” Fresno City coach Tony Caviglia said. “Not big enough to play defensive line, but maybe not quite quick or fast enough to play linebacker, but he’s a hybrid. He can play a little bit of both, and our defense is suited for him where he can rush or drop back.”
Rams outside linebackers coach Rick Lyons has been impressed.
He’s got a great work ethic and a great demeanor and is very coachable.
Fresno City outside linebackers coach Rick Lyons
“One of the things about Ricky is he’s willing to work hard,” he said. “He came out of ACL surgery, which is a very tough surgery, so he’s really working and improved his speed, quickness and his agility. He’s got a great work ethic and a great demeanor and is very coachable.”
Davis, who prepped at Hahnville High-Boutte, La., said transferring to Fresno City has turned out to be a great decision.
“After I finished my fall semester and spring semester, I left (Contra Costa) in summertime because of living situations,” Davis said. “Very expensive to live out there. I found Fresno City and got in contact with Coach C, and he told me I can come play here and he welcomed me aboard.”
Davis made his Rams debut last weekend in a 45-19 victory over Sierra. He didn’t record a tackle, but was just happy to get back on the field and participate without showing signs of the past injury.
“I was a little nervous because of my injury,” Davis said. “I had to get used to that environment again. As the game went on, I realized this is a great experience. Not being on the football field is the worst thing to go through. I felt thankful that I was able to play.”
Russell set to return – Rams linebacker Tamarcus Russell was held out of practice Wednesday as he went though the concussion protocol but returned Thursday. Caviglia said he should be available Saturday.
Tons of interceptions – Fresno City had five interceptions against Sierra, its most in a game since 2012.
Last season, the Rams had 12 to rank 33rd in the state.
“I want to see consistency,” defensive coordinator Rick Scheidt said. “More so than anything, less mental mistakes. Just tackle well. We didn’t have enough interceptions last year. Turnovers are going to help our offense. Our offense is a ball-control machine and going to take time off the clock. When you get turnovers like that, guys are fresh. It’s got to continue.”
Today’s nonconference games
Sequoias (1-0) at Feather River (0-1), 2 p.m.
Reedley (0-1) at Mendocino (1-0), 2 p.m.
Santa Rosa (1-0) at Fresno City (1-0), 5 p.m.
West Hills (0-1) at Los Medanos (1-0), 6 p.m.