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Maryland football is ready to turn to RaVon Davis at nickel corner

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The former walk-on has exceeded expectations, and will look to hold down a starting role in his final season.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Defensive Backs Week here at Testudo Times. Our summer preview series has gone through Maryland’s quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, offensive line, defensive ends, defensive tackles and linebackers. Let’s move to a players who will battle for the last, but crucial spot in Maryland’s defensive backfield.

RaVon Davis, No. 2

Height: 5’10
Weight: 170 lbs.
Year: Redshirt senior
Hometown: Fort Washington, Md.
Previous school: Mississippi Gulf Coast CC/Friendly HS

Rayshad Lewis, No. 13

Height: 5’10
Weight: 177 lbs.
Year: Redshirt sophomore
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Previous school: Utah State/Bishop Moore

The background

Maryland was neither Davis’ nor Lewis’ original destination.

Davis only had offers from Temple and Coastal Carolina coming out of high school, and spent two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College before walking on to his hometown team in the spring of 2016. He made a strong impression on the coaches with his relentless work ethic, earning a scholarship in August 2016.

Like Davis, Lewis was also a two-star recruit with no offers from Power 5 schools. Despite being an all-state cornerback in high school, Lewis played wide receiver in his freshman year at Utah State, catching 40 passes for 476 yards and two touchdowns. He announced he was transferring to Maryland in May 2017, and sat out all last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Lewis is the son of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. He’s the second Lewis relative to suit up for the Terps, as Ray Lewis’ brother, Keon Lattimore, had a solid career in College Park from 2004-07.

Davis has taken on more responsibility each year, and should see most of the snaps.

Just weeks after earning a scholarship during 2016 training camp, Davis started for the Terps in the season opener against Howard while JC Jackson sat out due to an academic issue. He made three more starts in 2016, recording 24 tackles. He made four starts again last year, but improved his production and finished with 38 tackles, including 4.5 for loss.

With Antoine Brooks switching from nickel corner to more safety this year, Davis is the favorite to start at the spot in Maryland’s base 4-2-5 defense heading into fall camp. He’s more of a natural nickel corner than Brooks, whose bulkier frame leaves him more suited to wreak havoc in opposing backfields. Davis has big some big shoes to fill at the position, as Brooks and Will Likely have both been excellent at nickel corner in recent years.

Lewis is more of a wild card.

After playing wide receiver at Utah State, Lewis saw time on both sides of the ball during spring practice. He told reporters in March that coaches thought he was a better fit at receiver with his slender frame, but Maryland head coach DJ Durkin suggested he try some snaps at both cornerback and wide receiver during spring practice.

Lewis was a two-way player in high school, so having a jack-of-all-trades role isn’t new. He could provide some depth and playmaking for a receivers group that needs it, or provide a spark on defense. Right now, he’s projected to switch back to defense and bolster a deep secondary, but that could change a month from now. If shows he can contribute, Durkin will find a way to get him on the field in any way he can.