COLUMBIA - Before the Heisman Trophy hype and preseason watch lists, South Carolina running back Mike Davis' goal was something simpler.
All Davis wanted was to see his jersey hanging in campus bookstores. To him, there was something special about seeing his jersey available to the public. So, through a whirlwind year, perhaps Davis' favorite moment came in early July when he entered Addam's University Bookstore at USC and saw his garnet No. 28.
"It was a great feeling," Davis said Sunday. "Coming here, I didn't think I'd see my jersey in the stores. That was one of my goals growing up, being able to get my jersey in the store. Not having my mom going to get one custom made. So it was a great feeling."
Davis said it highlighted how much difference a year makes.
Twelve months ago, Davis didn't have to face high expectations. The lack of hype was evident in daily life. When his sophomore year of college began, Davis traveled incognito. He went from class to class unencumbered.
Now, it's harder for Davis to go places without creating a scene. He catches the stares of his classmates. He receives their autograph requests.
"It's a lot different," Davis said of the celebrity status.
Davis deflects the hype. He would like to focus on football, not distractions. The junior unplugged from social media, going more than two weeks now without a tweet. Asked about the Heisman Trophy, Davis was noncommittal.
"I'm not even looking at the Heisman," Davis said. "I'm not looking at any award that I may potentially be able to get. As long as we're winning as a team, that's all I'm worried about."
Before he can try to outrun his 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns from last season, Davis has to find the practice field. He's been sidelined so far with what coach Steve Spurrier labeled a hamstring injury, but it shouldn't be an issue.
Spurrier said Davis was "running around pretty well" at practice Saturday night, and he could begin taking reps Monday.
"He probably could've practice (Saturday), but the trainers held him out," Spurrier said.
Injuries hindered what could have been a potential All-American season last fall. Davis dealt with a sore ankle, shoulder and ribs at different times last season. Clearly, a hamstring injury isn't how he wanted to start August.
But Davis said the hamstring feels strong. He doesn't expect it to be a problem when Texas A&M travels to Columbia for the season opener Aug. 28.
If he can stay healthy, Davis will likely have a decision to make at season's end. His campus celebrity status is nice. He enjoys seeing his No. 28 jersey being sold in bookstores. But the NFL could come calling.
Davis was asked the question several times Sunday. If everything goes well, could this be his final college season? Mostly, he was noncommittal, but Davis admitted the possibility is on his mind.
"My brother (former Clemson running back James Davis) says, 'Get it while you can,' " Davis said. "In my brother's case, he had a great junior year. He had a chance to come out his junior year. He decided to come back, and he had another injury. He could've dropped from third round, and he ended up going sixth round. So for me, once again, it's all for my family."
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