Joe Gaiter: What is your motivation for playing football?
Cleveland Davis: My father and brother were extraordinary athletes. My father was an All-American at Southern University in 69&70 and was a football coach for 25 years. He is the founder of the South Baton Rouge Rams, one of the most prestigious youth football organizations in America. My brother was an all state running back three years of his high school career at McKinley High School. Watching him run the football was a thing of beauty. I wanted to be just like him. He had a troubled childhood and fell into a life of crime and before he could fulfill his dreams of playing football on the D1 level, he had to serve time in prison. He walked on to the LSU football team in 1997 and was the backup to Cecil Collins but had to serve a 12 year sentence. I wanted to prove that I was better than they were and show them that I could do whatever they did.
Joe Gaiter: What will you miss most about playing at LSU?
Cleveland Davis:I will miss my teammates the most. The relationships that you create. The camaraderie you create while being beaten down by the heat of a Louisiana sun & humidity in the summer, on the field, off the field, in the meeting rooms, in the media, etc. My brothers are who I will miss most.
Joe Gaiter: What do you have to offer an NFL team?
Clevland Davis:A great football mind. A downhill approach to the game. Tough, physical, powerful runner, a future coach. I offer a wide variety of skills on the field. I played fullback my first 3 seasons. I created a relationship with Frank Wilson and I respect him as an incredible coach. My last season, I converted to defensive tackle for fall camp. I bulked up to 282 pounds to give the team some much needed depth at defensive tackle and though I was very raw at the position, my motor always was going which earned me some time on the field. I made my biggest impact on the special teams on the kickoff team. I was the sledgehamme while the opposition were the nails and I routinely smashed people and funneled the return to the coverage. Scout team is the other place I made an impact for the team. The most important part of the week for a football team is weekly preparation. I played about 12 different positions for the team. QB, FB, HB, TE, WR, guard, tackle, center, DT, DE, LB and safety. I was good at everything. Not an incredible athlete, but what I didnt have physically, I made up mentally with old fashioned know-how and savvy.
Joe Gaiter: What are some things that you learned from your college football experience?
Cleveland Davis:I learned how to be a man. Football is the closest thing to life personified. You will go through hardships, good times, bad, adversity, you get penalized for your mistakes, you exploit others weaknesses, maximize your strengths and make things happen. Life lessons on the field.
Joe Gaiter: Why should an NFL team draft you? Me?
Cleveland Davis:Easy. You get more than just an old school player. You get a great mind for the game. I will find a way to get the job done. Here at LSU, I faced adversity almost every day. I was undersized as a DT, but I found a way to make it work. I was a fullback in a new system. I found a way to make it work. 6’0, 270 is perfect for an NFL FB/ special teams guy. Mentally, I’m ready for whatever challenges are ahead. Coming from where I’m from, you see a lot of hard things. Growing up poor, you are hungry for better. I will give all I can physically and I am happy just to have a shot. If it doesn’t come, I’m just blessed to have had a chance to represent LSU.
Joe Gaiter: What are your biggest strengths on the field?
Cleveland Davis:Enthusiasm, power, strength, battle tested leader with scars to show for it, great balance.
Joe Gaiter: What are the keys for someone to successfully play your position?
Cleveland Davis:As a fullback, or defensive tackle: strength, speed, unselfishness, quickness, toughness, dexterity.
Joe Gaiter: Do you have a backup plan if you don’t get drafted?
Cleveland Davis:I love this game so damn much. I will coach , hopefully on the college level. I’ve started on the high school level at my high school, McKinley Senior High and I love it.
Joe Gaiter: What player in the NFL has your style of play?
Cleveland Davis: Quinn Johnson. tough, good blocker, great special teams player.
Joe Gaiter: Are you unteachable or do you know it all right now?
Clevland Davis:I consider myself very coach-able. If you ask any of my coaches, if you show me how to do something, I can exactly replicate it. I could do anything asked of me.