In July, Keegan Davis committed to Marshall to play tight end, his primary position. While committed, Davis’s mother cried every day because her son would be moving to Huntington, West Virginia, which is about 935 miles from their hometown of Port Saint Lucie, FL.
Seven days before the Early Signing Period, Davis got on the phone with FIU head coach Butch Davis, who pitched the idea of switching from tight end to a defensive lineman at the next level. Usually, committed prospects wouldn’t pay mind to that idea. But when it’s coming from a legendary coach like Butch Davis, the circumstances are different.
Davis, who’s a three-star athlete on 247Sports, was quickly persuaded. The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder out of Treasure Coast High School altered his pledge from Marshall and signed his NLI to FIU on January 16.
“Coach Davis is a very convincing guy and the plan he had for me was a very well laid out plan,” Davis told 305 Sports. “He’s coached multiple guys, for example, Warren Sapp, who came into college as a tight end and is one of the best d-lineman who’s ever played the game. Then there’s Kevin Patrick, who he compared me to and said my game is a lot like his; he also came in as a tight end and transferred over to the defensive line.”
Davis chose the Panthers over offers from FAU, Coastal Carolina and Marshall amongst several other schools. Ultimately, staying in his home state was the deciding factor.
“For starters, the distance,” Davis said. “I think I’ll be more successful staying at home. My dream has always been to play in Florida, so my family was excited and relieved for me and knew I was happy.”
FIU’s relationship with Davis dates back to his freshman year, as he was first contacted by tight ends coach Drew Davis and was invited to numerous camps. After first playing offensive lineman during youth football, Keegan started at outside linebacker in ninth grade. Following a 5-5 season, he transitioned to tight end in a run-heavy offense. The position change sparked his initial influx of college offers, and was critical in Treasure Coast’s 8-4 season in 2018 and 9-2 record in 2019.
Heading into his senior year, Treasure Coast graduated four defensive linemen, which left a once loaded DL group thin. After conversations with head coach Irvin Jones, defensive line coach Jerrime Bell suggested Davis play on his side of the ball.
“During the offseason, me and head coach [Irvin] Jones spoke and knew that if we we’re going to be the team we think we can be, we gotta play Keegan at defensive end,” Bell said. “We needed him his senior year. He’s very aggressive, strong, probably pound-for-pound one of the strongest kids in our program. He got there, and he’s just a natural defensive lineman.”
While Davis didn’t specialize as a defensive end throughout his senior campaign, his three-minute HUDL highlight film was enough to catch the attention of former FIU defensive line coach Kenard Lang.
“I sent Kenard Lang his film, and within an hour, he was on the phone with me getting all his information,” Bell said. “Then, Keegan got his offer from FIU two or three days later.”
Bell said that Davis only played defensive end during big games, as he remained Treasure Coast’s tight end, full back, and long snapper. As a senior, Davis garnered six receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown, On defense, he collected three sacks and 10 tackles for Treasure Coast, which finished with a 10-1 record. Regardless, Bell believes the sky’s the limit for Davis at DE.
“If he played on the defensive line all four years, he would’ve been a Power 5 defensive end,” Bell said. “His first step off the line is almost like a receiver coming off the ball. He has a tremendous first step, he’s very strong, and he has something natural about him when it comes to playing defensive end. The play is never over when he’s on the field.”
At FIU, Butch Davis is amped for the arrival of his future defensive lineman, who’ll be enrolling in the summer.
“I really truly love guys like this,” Davis said. “He plays tight end, he plays defensive line, he’s an excellent long snapper. His value to this football program is excellent. You watch the way in which he plays, he gives great effort, he’s always tenacious, he’s always trying to create negative plays, plays in the backfield and his effort is just outstanding.”
Keegan heads into this fall as a freshman with a whole lot to prove. And he has a message for FIU fans.
“I’m at home, and I’m going to be where I want to be. This is my dream school. I hope you’ll love me, Panther fans. I want to play as fast as I can, and get on the field as much as possible. I appreciate everything I’m going to get from ya’ll and I hope ya’ll appreciate everything I’m going to give to ya’ll.”