PJ Davis has been a fan-favorite since he stepped on the Flats four years ago. When Davis signed, he gave this quote:
Coach Johnson asked me if I thought I would be able to play at their level and I told him I would be the best player they signed this year.
Let’s reflect on that, shall we? In our 2013 class (yep, that class), we brought in players that a lot of us thought would be pretty solid with a couple stars sprinkled in. Some of the notable names at the time were Travis Custis (the B-back of the future at the time), Shamire Devine, Harrison Butker, and Ricky Jeune. Needless to say, some of those recruits worked out (Butker and Jeune), while some certainly did not (Custis and Devine). Honestly, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to say that PJ Davis was the best player we signed in the 2013 class. The little, 5-10, 200 lb. linebacker out of Cairo, GA.
After being a leader on Tech’s defense for the last few years, we are now in the unfortunate predicament of trying to replace him. Let’s take a look at some of the candidates to join Brant Mitchell and the combination of Terrell Lewis and David Curry at the strongside linebacker. (Note: these are ordered in likelihood of winning the job in my opinion).
Vic Alexander served as Davis’ backup last season and performed admirably as a reserve, piling up 15 tackles. He’s long been a fan favorite since he stepped on the Flats and certainly has the physicality to play strongside linebacker.
Coming in as a freshman, Jordan-Swilling is one of the top recruits Paul Johnson brought in with the 2017 class. Coming in with his brother Tre’, both are looking to make an impact as soon as this season. With a spot open at linebacker, Jordan-Swilling has the potential to be a four-year starter for the Yellow Jackets.
Tyler Cooksey was one of my favorite recruits of the 2015 class. He has pretty good size, at 6-2, 224 lbs., though he is a little light, and would bring some coverage ability to the strongside linebacker position. He played special teams last year and didn’t record any stats. He was also named Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year.
Jackson originally came in as a middle linebacker, but was unseated by current starter Brant Mitchell, but now he has the opportunity to show what he’s got at outside linebacker. Similar to Davis, Jackson is a physical player who isn’t afraid to hit.
Let’s be frank: Replacing PJ Davis is not going to be an easy task. He’s been one of our best players the last few years, but more importantly, he’s been a leader on the defense. We certainly have some good players here, and it’ll be a fun battle to watch during Fall practices. I think this is how things are going to fall into place at the beginning of the season, but I think the real player to keep an eye on will be Bruce Jordan-Swilling. He could very well be the starter by the end of the season, even if he doesn’t begin the season there.
Who do you think will replace PJ Davis at linebacker? Who can step up as a leader on the defense?