Pitt freshmen RBs don't lack any confidence

Jerry DiPaola
| Friday, Aug. 26, 2011

Pitt freshman running back Corey Davis isn't trying to brag when he talks about his speed.

Sometimes, though, he just can't help himself.

"I am ready to get the ball in my hands and have smoke behind me," he said. "When I turn on my jets, it's just about over with for anybody who is chasing me.

"But I am very humble to say that."

Pitt's Malcolm Crockett, another freshman back competing for playing time behind Ray Graham and Zach Brown, speaks with equal conviction.

If Crockett is forced to take a redshirt this season, coaches might as well ask him to wear a straitjacket. Coach Todd Graham wants to strain and train his players, but Crockett has no intention of allowing anyone to restrain him.

"When I came here, I had a mindset not to redshirt," he said. "My mindset was to learn quick, don't play like a freshman, play like I have been here for a couple years."

No worries. Graham said both freshmen likely will play, and a redshirt doesn't appear in their immediate future.

So far, Davis and Crockett have shown it's possible to recruit well in only two weeks. The previous Pitt coaching staff wasn't chasing either player, but their speed and playmaking abilities grabbed the attention of Graham, who wasn't hired until Jan. 11 — less than a month before signing day.

Graham found Davis, 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, in Gladewater, a tiny town in east Texas, when almost no one else was bothering to make the trip.

"It's three hours to drive out there," Graham said. "It's out in the sticks. But there's pretty good home cookin' out there."

If Davis' high school career is any indication, the football isn't bad, either.

Davis, who's competing with Buddy Jackson and Ray Graham to become Pitt's primary kick returner, scored 31 touchdowns last season and rushed for 200 or more yards four times.

He also has a bit of mischief in his personality, sometimes switching classes at Gladewater with twin brother, Courtney, a cornerback/returner at Louisiana-Monroe.

"The teachers didn't realize it until one of us said something," he said. "We didn't do it a lot, but when we did it, it was the laugh of the day."

Growing up, Davis said, "Everything we did, we did it real fast."

Asked to describe his speed with examples, Davis, who said he's run the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, thought for a moment and said, "I got a lot of them."

"I had boys come at me at all types of angles, and I am 20 yards behind them, and I'm going steady (without getting caught)."

Crockett, a 5-10, 180-pounder, initially committed to Cincinnati and later considered Michigan. He ended up de-committing and following former Michigan coaches Calvin Magee and Tony Dews to Pitt.

"I trusted my career and future with (Pitt)," he said.

Crockett doesn't apologize for wavering.

"You just have to do what is best for you," said Crockett, who had an ankle injury last season but still rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in two years at Friendship (Md.) Collegiate Academy. "It can look bad, but sometimes, you have to be selfish, but in a good way, and do what is best for you."

Crockett, a thoughtful, systems engineering major who brought his grandmother on his official visit, said he wants to play in the NFL but not at the expense of his education.

He said something that probably will please Todd Graham.

"You know how some players have a chance to leave early?" he said. "I am going to stay all four years."

Freshmen to watch


Height, weight: 5-11, 180

Position: Running back

Hometown: Gladewater, Texas

Did you know?: He averaged 21 yards on 14 carries in a game against Rusk, Texas.

Malcolm Crockett

Height, weight: 5-10, 189

Position: Running back

Hometown: Takoma Park, Md.

Did you know• He was rated one of the top 30 players in the Mid-Atlantic Region by recruiting website SuperPrep.com.

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