After leading the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in receiving last season, SC State’s Shaquan Davis made the decision to leave Orangeburg in hopes of playing in the National Football League.
Davis, a red-shirt junior, had 45 catches for 934 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Bulldogs last season and was invited to participate in the East-West Shrine Game in Las Vegas.
On December 5, Davis tweeted a heart-felt letter thanking his SC State teammates, coaches and fans as he made the decision to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft.
“The decision was hard, especially after a losing season,” Davis said. “I prayed a lot, and had talks with my parents and close friends before deciding to declare. I felt I had a career, and was ready to take that step to the next level.”
While in Las Vegas, Davis competed against some of the best players in the country. NFL scouts and GMs were starting to take notice of the 6’5 receiver. In an interview with Steelers Depot, Davis said he relied on the guidance of former teammate Decobie Durant who played in the all-star game a year ago.
“He told me you have to be locked in,” Davis said. “It’s just football, from meetings to interviews to install. If that’s what you feel you’re ready for, go ahead and take the leap.”
Davis’ first road block came when he was told he would not be receiving an invitation to participate at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
“I was kind of surprised (in not being invited), there was a lot of talk about me supposedly getting a chance to participate,” Davis said. “But, it’s not the end of the world. There have been a number of guys in the league who have gone on to have solid careers without participating in the combine.”
The receiver got the chance to impress scouts at the Pro Day held at the University of South Carolina. He’s continued his workouts in Tampa, and will now wait these next three days to hopefully hear his name called in this year’s draft.
“It would mean everything to get drafted,” Davis said. “It’s been a life-long dream, but it’s been a long process. A lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. The hardest thing is keeping my mental toughness. I try to take it one day at a time.”
35 receivers were taken in the 2020 and 2021 NFL Drafts. 28 were selected last season as the NFL continues to evolve into a more offensive league. Davis said many scouts have liked the way he could fit into a number of different offenses.
“A lot of people say they like me,” Davis says with chuckle. “(Scouts) say they like my speed, my size and the ability to make plays. I am a hard worker, willing to do anything to help the team win. I will play receiver, special teams or even practice squad just to get guys better and help prepare us to win.”
Davis is not mentioned in many mock drafts, and would most likely be selected in one of the final rounds Saturday. While there is a chance he’s not selected, he could then sign a free agent contract with any team that makes him an offer. Davis said his team has not talked about that situation yet.
For now, Davis will have to wait. He said he will be watching Saturday with friends and family in his hometown of Summerville, his hero by his side.
“My mom is my hero, and I just want to make her proud,” Davis said. “I started playing football in the fourth grade, and she’s made so many sacrifices for me and to watch me play.”
The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 27 with the first round. The second and third rounds will be Friday with rounds five through seven taking place Saturday.