LB Jarrad Davis became face of Florida football at SEC Media Days

Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Monday, July 11, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Monday, July 11, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

HOOVER, Ala. — If he wasn’t already, linebacker Jarrad Davis is now the face of Florida football following his appearance at SEC Media Days.

It was in the radio/internet room where he delivered what may be the most thoughtful and impressive comment from any SEC player this week.

Asked about sexual assaults and domestic violence incidents in college football and what his school is doing to address them, Davis gave the two-minute reply a question like that warranted (see below).

He responded with class, genuineness and, most importantly, honesty. Davis tackled the issue with the same passion he brings down ball-carriers with, and his message was a picture-perfect moment for the Florida brand.

Davis, who thanked the media members for their coverage before taking questions, moved the entire room with his answer. His sincerity was a breath of fresh air, and Davis didn’t have to deliver a cliché or the company line to sell his program.

This is a player who is on the Butkus Award watch list for the nation’s best linebacker and the watch list for the Wuerffel Trophy, given to college football’s top community servant.

Gators coach Jim McElwain was asked what it’s like having someone like Davis on his team.

“You saw the guy,” McElwain said. “Well spoken, kind of quiet. But don’t get in a dark alley with him.”

After hearing him speak, there’s a moment where you forget he’s a monster on the field who plays with such violent aggression at his position. NFL.com named him the No. 1 linebacker to watch in 2016.

But Davis didn’t focus on the praise and recognition in that article. Instead, he paid attention to the criticism by draft analyst Lance Zierlein. He wrote that Davis was an inconsistent tackler because his relentless pursuit causes him to overrun potential tackles.

Instead of dismiss Zierlein’s assessment, Davis went back and watched his film to find the flaws in his game.

“I do miss a lot of tackles because I’m out of control,” Davis said he realized. “A lot of things you do in life have to be about control. Football is no different. This offseason, I’ve been working on having the same speed and mindset to the ball. But once I get to the ball, it’s about controlled bursts and controlled explosion on the ball-carrier.”

His commitment and work ethic has made Davis the unquestioned leader of Florida’s team heading into this season.

“He’s taken that upon himself,” McElwain said. “He’s done a great job at our place with that type of mentality. He’s a guy that has an expectation when he goes out to play really hard. I’m sure glad he chose to come back.”

Davis could have turned pro last year after finishing second on the team with 98 tackles, but he committed to returning for his senior season in his post-game interview at the SEC Championship Game. Davis explained his thought process behind that decision at SEC Media Days, and it was another admirable answer from Florida’s star voice in Hoover.

“The way that we walked out of that locker room at the end of the night was difficult. I walked away wanting more. I don’t think it would have been a good situation for me to leave the University of Florida still wanting more as a Gator. Imagine if I would have been gone this year. I would have been thinking, ‘Dang, I could’ve came back and did it all over again and checked off a mark on my bucket list.’ That’s something I think about every day — I want to go back to Atlanta and win.

“To the team, to the defense, to Gator Nation, I’m ready to give my all. I go to work every day and I say, ‘I’m going to give everything I have.’ I’m going to give away everything I’ve got in the tank. I’m going to give it up for this team and the University of Florida. I don’t feel like you can get better if you don’t try to set a new bar for yourself, and that’s what I try to do. I go in the weight room, in the film room and on the field around my teammates to make us better. I want to bring us closer and push us further.”

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Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.