AUBURN, Ala. — If the Iron Bowl is like the rest of Ryan Davis’ games, he’ll walk out of Jordan-Hare Stadium with his name on an all-time Auburn football record.
On Saturday, Davis caught 6 passes for 48 yards in Auburn’s 42-14 win over ULM. That gave him 58 for the season — just 2 away from tying Darvin Adams for the most receptions in a single season.
“I haven’t looked at the number recently, I didn’t know I was close,” Davis said Saturday. “I never really even thought about it, honestly. I didn’t know what the record was until this season, but that is pretty cool. Hopefully I can accomplish that.”
Davis needs 3 receptions to break the record held by Adams, who set it in Auburn’s 2009 season. That shouldn’t be too difficult for Davis, even against an elite defense such as Alabama. He’s had at least 2 receptions in every game this season and averages 5.3 per game.
While Darius Slayton has been Auburn’s top vertical threat, Davis has truly been the go-to guy for sophomore quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
Most of Davis’ receptions come on quick screens, where he uses his vision and agility to weave through defenders for big plays. Although he averages less than 10 yards per catch, he is just behind Slayton (53.3) in terms of yards per game (51.3) and is tied in touchdowns with 5.
“Ryan Davis has proven he’s one of our playmakers,” Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said last week. “The thing about him is he catches the ball with his feet on the ground and continues to move. He’s really smooth and he’s a competitor and he’s desperate to get open. That’s important to play receiver.”
It’s a potentially record-breaking season Davis said he didn’t even see coming, as he entered 2017 as one of the less-heralded receivers in Auburn’s group.
“Not really, because there’s so many receivers that we have and pass the ball around to,” Davis said. “But it’s a blast for me to be in the same conversation as Darvin Adams. This is a blessing, and hopefully I can get that.”
For Davis, that record-breaking moment could easily come on the biggest stage of his career so far — a winner-take-all Iron Bowl against No. 1 Alabama that will make or break the Tigers’ championship hopes.
“I mean, it’s Alabama,” Davis said. “You don’t really have to say too much. It’s a big game. They are a great team. Year in and year out, they are at the top of college football and we just have to come with our A-game.”
Davis’ quarterback said he wasn’t aware the junior from St. Petersburg, Fla., was closing in on the single-season record at Auburn.
But Stidham knows he will have an excellent security blanket out wide in his first Iron Bowl, and one who is ready to perform in big-time games.
“Ryan, he’s a heck of a ballplayer,” Stidham said. “He makes my job, obviously, a lot easier… [The record chase] is incredible for him and is just a testament to how hard he’s worked over the years. He’s built for moments like this.”