Back in April, Jmari Davis hinted he could be a new weapon in Fort Hays State’s arsenal with a standout performance in FHSU's spring game.
The redshirt freshman’s potential was on full display again in the Tigers’ final scrimmage of fall camp, with Davis hauling in four touchdown passes on Saturday at Lewis Field Stadium.
“That dude’s fast. He’s really fast,” FHSU senior quarterback Jacob Mezera said. “He’s trying to take the tops off the defense. If you’re not throwing respect at him, he’s going to burn them. That’s why we got him out there right now, and he’s doing a really great job.”
Davis, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound receiver from Muskogee, Okla., burned the defense three times deep for touchdowns and also made a nice grab in the corner of the end zone for his fourth score.
“I’ve been practicing with the 1s and they always told me, with my speed, I’m going to be out there,” Davis said. “I just did some offseason work and it all came out on the field.”
Tiger coach Chris Brown hopes to utilize Davis as a deep threat throughout the season.
“I’m pretty impressed with what he has done,” Brown said. “He’s got some speed and he’s got really good hands. We need to use him as a weapon week in and week out."
Game experience has been hard to come by for Davis since his junior year of high school. He was robbed of almost his entire senior year at Muskogee High School due to injury.
“My senior year I tore my meniscus and missed the whole year and came back for the playoff,” Davis said. “I didn’t really get to play that much. Now, I’m ready.”
Davis cut his teeth in the program in practice during his redshirt year, while watching the Tigers run the table in the regular season to claim the MIAA title.
“I was with the scouts, and you know we got the best defense out here,” Davis said. “I was making plays, so I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m ready to be out here next year.’
“I just wanted to be out there, being a redshirt and being out here in the atmosphere. I was ready to get back out there.”
Brown said he likes the depth in the Tigers’ receiving corps, which includes returners Layne Bieberle and Harley Hazlett.
“Dandre Reed (junior college transfer from Blinn College) is another one that’s got good speed and can do some good things for us,” Brown said. “Harley (Hazlett) is going to be good for us as well. I really think some of those young guys have really developed over a year.”
Brown said it was another productive scrimmage, albeit a little sloppier than he would have preferred.
“Too many penalties today,” Brown said. “We got beat deep quite a few times on defense. We’ve just got to get things cleaned up a little bit.
“Overall, it was OK. A little sloppy here and there, but it’s Day 14. They’re a little tired, a little worn out. They’ll rest (Sunday) and be ready to go on Monday.”
The Tigers will open the season against Central Missouri Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. at home.
“I think our kids have done a good of picking up what we’re doing offensively and defensively,” Brown said. “We’ve just got to keep moving forward and clean things up and making sure we’re securing all the blocks and running our routes in the proper depth and getting our timing down offensively and defensively. I think if we do those things, we can be pretty darn good again. But one little slip up can cost you.”