Throughout Dabo’s tenure at Clemson, there have been a few of his practices that have sparked much discussion and debate among the Tiger faithful. Very few, however, have drawn more comments than his practice of recruiting legacy players. Clemson has had a penchant for offering scholarships to players with family ties to the program, usually the sons of former Clemson stars. While sometimes these are players that Clemson would’ve recruited regardless of pedigree, other times these recruits would be looking at FCS or small G5 programs if not for the Clemson offer. Some of the legacies flourish, some maintain their position as strong contributors, and some decide to seek playing time other places. Regardless of your thoughts on Clemson’s policies regarding these players, it is special to watch these players succeed. The Davis twins are a couple of examples.
JD and Judah Davis are the sons of legendary Clemson linebacker Jeff “the Judge” Davis. Davis was a key part to Clemson’s 1981 national championship, and has been involved with the university and the athletic department for years following his NFL career. The Twins essentially grew up in Death Valley and around the program. If there’s anyone who could be described as “bleeding orange,” it would be these two. And like many of the legacy recruits, some eyebrows raised when these two were offered full rides to Clemson as opposed to being preferred walk-ons. The brothers were each rated as two-star recruits by 247 Sports and came out of Daniel High appearing a bit undersized compared to some of Clemson’s other linebacker recruits, but Dabo and the staff felt they would be able to contribute anyway.
It was such a great scene following the 2017 National Championship game: seeing Jeff Davis celebrate on the field next to his two sons as their team had just knocked off Alabama, ending Clemson’s 35 year drought. It was hardly the peak for the Davis family.
With Clemson’s 2017 defense suffering some key injuries, JD Davis was called into duty. JD started five games in 2017, including the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. In what was an otherwise forgettable game for Clemson, JD was named co-defensive player of the game, tying for team high tackles in the game with seven. In 2018, Davis only made two starts on defense, but still was a contributor, racking up 45 tackles, with four for a loss and two sacks. JD also had a special moment in his final game in Death Valley, getting his first career interception off South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, a huge stop on a day where Clemson struggled against the Gamecock passing game.
Judah Davis was a reliable special teams player for the Tigers, particularly on kickoffs. You have to admire a guy like Judah staying at Clemson and contributing any way he can, becaue he certainly is a guy that could have found more playing time at other places. Judah earned a degree in marketing in December of 2017, so he could have transferred and not had to sit out for 2018. However, he chose to stay, getting to experience another championship and continuing the family legacy.
While the Clemson family welcomes all with open arms, there is something extra special about witnessing a father who led Clemson to the promise land the first time get to celebrate not once, but twice with his boys who just helped Clemson get back on top of that mountain. Moments like that are part of what make Clemson special. It’s not about being a cog in a machine that steamrolls everything in its way, but one, powerful family that takes care of its own and plays for each other. It’s two star guys lining up next to five star guys and playing their hearts out. It’s something you don’t see everywhere.
Their father, Jeff Davis, was a huge contributor to Clemson’s first national championship, however it didn’t end there for him. He continued working with the university he loved to make it better as a whole. Now, his sons have left a great impact on Clemson and are well-suited for future successful wherever they go. So, I’d like to say, thank you JD and Judah, it’s been a blast watching y’all grow the past few years and this run to greatness wouldn’t have been the same without you!