The Davis brothers build a house divided

They will be on opposite sidelines on Saturday — Mike playing for USC and James as a Clemson fan — but there won’t be any trash talking

jkendall@thestate.comNovember 23, 2012 

Mike Davis got his sophomore season off to a fine start.

MELISSA HARMON — Special to GoGamecocks

  • MIKE DAVIS School: USC Class: Freshman Claim to fame: Brother of James; 4-star recruit in high school; No. 2 on USC’s depth chart behind RB Kenny Miles Key stats: 40 carries for 232 yards JAMES DAVIS School: Clemson Playing days: 2005-2008 Claim to fame: Part of Clemson’s “Thunder and Lightning” backfield with C.J. Spiller Key stats: 879 yards on 165 carries as a freshman; 4,309 career all-purpose yard

The Davis brothers have mostly avoided trash talk this week.

It feels unnecessary to Mike Davis.

“I think he already knows they are going to lose,” South Carolina’s freshman running back said.

“He” is Mike’s older brother James, a standout running back for Clemson from 2005-2008. James Davis was a resource for his brother throughout the recruiting process but never tried to steer him to his alma mater, Mike Davis said.

Now, the brothers will be on opposite sidelines at Clemson Memorial Stadium on Saturday night when the No. 13 Gamecocks and No. 12 Tigers meet for the 110th time.

“He’s ready for us to play Clemson because he’s going to be on their sideline, so it’s going to be fun,” Mike Davis said. “We talk all the time, you know, big brother. That’s the thing he’s here for. We joke around and everything.”

The brothers have talked regularly this season but rarely about football, Mike Davis said. When the subject does come up, the tone is always friendly, Mike said.

“We love each other,” he said. “It’s nothing big.”

He will not be offended Saturday night to see his brother across the field decked out in the orange Mike Davis is now supposed to despise.

“Not offended at all,” Mike said. “It’s expected. He went there.”

The Davis brothers grew up near Atlanta, and Mike was a four-star running back prospect at Stephenson High when he signed with South Carolina last year.

“Me and him are two different type of backs,” James Davis said. “I think playing the SEC, he is that type of back. He is way bigger than I was coming out of high school and probably will get even bigger.”

In Everette Sands’ memory, it is James Davis who is the bulkier of the brothers. Sands, who is now South Carolina’s running backs coach, was an assistant coach at The Citadel and faced James Davis at Clemson.

“James is more of a bigger, downhill guy,” Sands said. “I think Mike has a little bit better feet and a little bit more explosion.”

Mike Davis has 40 carries for 232 yards this season and is South Carolina’s No. 2 running back after the season-ending injury to Marcus Lattimore. James Davis became Clemson’s starting running back in his first year, gaining 879 yards on 165 carries as a freshman and going on to finish his career with 4,309 all-purpose yards.

In contrast, Mike Davis never expected to see the field this year. On his first day of practice, he was behind Lattimore, Shon Carson, Brandon Wilds and Kenny Miles on the depth chart. Season-ending injuries to Lattimore, Carson and Wilds have now thrust him into a starring role in his first season against his brother’s former team.

“I actually thought I was going to redshirt and injuries came and they just threw me in the fire, but I was ready,” he said. “I think I have played pretty well the chances I have gotten, just still learning.”

Sands has been satisfied with Mike Davis’ progress, particularly late in the season.

“I think his focus is getting better and better,” Sand said, “which is what we need.”

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