JOPLIN, Mo. – Former Joplin High School running back Isaiah Davis is about to play for a national championship in his freshman season at South Dakota State.
“It’s amazing. It’s one of the best experiences of my life. It’s something you dream about as a kid,” Davis says, “My goal was to play for a national championship, and that’s how it played out.”
South Dakota State will face Sam Houston State at 1 PM on Sunday in the FCS National Championship.
It’s a big stage – but not too big for Davis, who played for a state championship at Joplin High School in his senior year in 2019.
“I feel like this year my confidence has been built up,” Davis says on the lack of nerves heading into the national championship, “Playing and making the start against SIU has helped me build that confidence. The experiences have been great. I didn’t really know what to expect…with COVID. I just had the mindset to be the best I could be this year.”
Davis hasn’t just been a passenger on the national championship ride for the Jackrabbits.
This season he has rushed for 640 yards and 7 touchdowns on 86 carries – averaging 7.8 yards-per-rush. He was named the MVFC Newcomer of the Week after rushing 22 times for a career-high 150 yards and scoring three touchdowns in South Dakota State’s 44-3 road win at Southern Illinois on March 20th.
“I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to play as a freshman,” Davis says, “To get my reps in and get something on film is a great opportunity for me.”
The former Eagle was the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior in 2019. That season, he finished with 2,283 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 220 yards and had 50 tackles on defense
“In high school, it was really just about working on us and working on our plays,” Davis says of the difference between the high school and college games, “In college, the knowledge and things you have to know are totally different.”
While he’s 500 miles away – Davis says he still feels the support of the 4-State area as he heads into the national championship – and is still in touch with his former Joplin teammates and coaches.
“I text them every weekend and they text me good luck before every game,” Davis finishes, “I see it all over Facebook, people wearing SDSU gear, buying some or getting some in the mail. It’s amazing to see the support I have back home.”