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Davis: Never Be a Follower, Always a Leader

Posted Sep 21, 2012

We caught up with rookie linebacker Demario Davis after practice this afternoon. The Jets third-round selection is gearing up for his second NFL road contest. He talked to us about his rookie transition, his journey to where he is today and his leadership qualities.

You’re officially two games into your NFL career. What’s the whole process been like?

It’s been good. The good thing is just being back to playing football. That’s something you’ll never forget, just game-planning every week and being ready for each and every opponent. It’s the same routine over and over, just going out to get to know your opponent and then go out and execute everything you learned during the week. That’s the beauty of the game. So now it’s about who has the most focus, who can focus for the longest and who can execute the best.

Sunday will be your second road game in the NFL. Do you enjoy playing on the road?

I’m the type of person where it doesn’t matter where I play at or who we’re playing. It’s just the type of mentality that I take. But the only thing about the road is that it takes a little more focus because so many different variables change as far as a road game. Preparation is the same, but once you leave your home and go on the road, it just requires a little more focus. But the good thing about the road games and something that’s very important is special teams and defense, and that’s what I’m a part of. So I like that. I like that challenge to the focus.

Have you always played special teams during your career and is it something you’re comfortable with?

Yeah, I have. I love the special teams role.

How has it been working with special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff?

Oh, man. Westhoff, I understand why they call him the greatest. You can tell with everything about him. He has us so prepared going into the game that we know everything our opponent is going to do. Anytime you go in with that type of edge, it’s going to be successful.

How has your life changed most since entering the NFL?

I wouldn’t say much has changed about my life except for the fact that I live in New Jersey now. That’s the biggest change. I try to keep the same routine that I had in college about how I attack the season, and the biggest difference is I’m married now and living in New Jersey.

I know you were born in Mississippi and went to college at Arkansas State. But what are your thoughts so far on living in the Northeast?

I mean, it’s cool. It’s not as big of a culture shock as I thought it would be. It’s pretty much the same. Not as much different. A little bit different food.

What about the price of living? Because I know Mississippi is pretty cheap.

Oh, yeah, the price of living is a lot higher. But it just comes with the territory. It’s all good.

Did you always believe you could be in the position you are today?

I always did think I could be here, and I felt like I was destined to be in the NFL and do big things. But you never know. I just thank God for the opportunity to be here. It was definitely Him who gave me the opportunity to be here, allowing certain things to happen the way they did and teaching me all the things that He taught me along the way. So I’m definitely grateful to be in this position.

Why No. 56?

I wore 23 in college. Fifty-six, I just liked it. I had to switch to a linebacker number and then Lawrence Taylor was one of my favorite players. I always admired the way he played the game. Hopefully I can bring that fire and passion about the game here.

What’s it been like learning from a veteran linebacker group with David Harris, Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace?

It’s been great. Those guys are great. They’re very influential. I’m listening to those guys talk every day and just things they say about the game that you have to understand. They teach me a lot, so I try to sit back and learn from those guys.

Has there been one piece of advice they’ve passed on that’s stood out?

There’s so much to learn about this game. I don’t think it can ever be just one thing that you learned that you can put above anything. The biggest thing is that you can never stop learning and that you can always get better. So you take that mentality in every day, and the thing I’m trying to do is just get better.

Many people, including your head coach, have commented about your strong leadership qualities. Where do those qualities come from?

It’s a few different areas. My mom and dad always encouraged me to never be a follower but always be a leader. My grandma also pushed that on me. I just think it’s one of the things that some people are just born with. I always think about my animality. I always think of myself as a lion, and you know the lion is the king of the jungle. I understand you have to learn how to follow before you can lead, and I’m in a following situation right now. For a person who’s born to lead, they never truly really feel comfortable in that following position. But sometimes it’s important to learn a lot of things when you’re in that position. So that’s kind of one of the main things I’m doing right now.

So would you say it was your parents and your grandmother that were the biggest leaders for you growing up?

I had so many different people who were influential in my life. I had older cousins. My mom and my grandmom were definitely two people who I learned the most from about hard work and about compassion for people and stuff like that.

When your rookie season is over, what do you want people to say about Demario Davis and what do you hope to have accomplished?

I definitely want to have accomplished earning a lot of respect from my teammates and my coaches that this guy can definitely benefit this team a lot and do a lot of things and help us be a contender. I just want people to see me as a guy that can come in and transcend the game and do a lot of things in this game. So I’m just going to keep working hard every day for that opportunity.

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