AUBURN, Ala. — Deshaun Davis rarely has been quiet on the football field this season.
The Auburn linebacker communicates checks and calls for the defense, cheers on teammates and celebrates big plays. He’s also spent a lot of time talking to opposing players.
“What I really key my game is trying to know what the offense is doing before they’re doing it,” Davis said earlier this season. “It’s discouraging for offenses when you’re lined up at linebacker and you’re telling them where the ball is going before they even snap the ball.”
The consistent conversation led senior defensive back Josh Holsey — he admits he enjoys his fair share of chatter with opponents — to dub Davis as Auburn’s biggest trash talker.
Fortunately Davis has backed up all of his smack talk this season, becoming a key voice within the talented defense.
In Auburn’s first five games, the sophomore totaled 21 tackles (11 unassisted), adding two pass breakups and three quarterback hurries.
With Davis’ help, Kevin Steele’s defense has jumped 30 spots to a No. 40 ranking nationally in total defense (358.4 yards per game allowed), while inching closer to the top of the SEC rankings in total defense (fifth).
Before Davis arrived at Auburn, coaches wondered if the linebacker’s size (he’s listed at 5-11) would be a hindrance in the SEC.
Davis has used those doubts as inspiration.
“He’s really hungry,” Holsey said. “No one ever really gave him a shot before because of his height. You don’t really don’t have too many 5-7, 5-8 linebackers in the SEC. So he’s been really waiting for this moment. When they gave him the chance, he was going to run with it.”
The last time Davis saw considerable playing time before this year was his junior season at Vigor High School. He’s been proud, and even at times overwhelmed, by the support he’s sensed as he’s dominated on the field once again.
“It still seems kind of unreal to me to just look up in the stands and see all those people cheering for the Auburn defense and knowing that I’m on the field for that,” Davis said. “I’m enjoying every second of it.”
And whatever comes out of Davis’ mouth is just more of a spark for him and his teammates.
“He’s one of those guys that all he do on the field is talk…That motivates him, you know what I mean. Some guys get that motivation. That motivates him. That’s all he does,” Holsey said. “He jumps around. He celebrates. And that’s just how he plays. And he plays great, so you can’t really tell him to stop because he’s playing awesome. Those guys really feed off of him. As a secondary, I feed off him as well because he’s one of those guys who’s been waiting for that moment. His moment came, and he’s really ran with it now.”
The Auburn defense doesn’t expect to have any problems communicating in Starkville this weekend.
“On defense, away games are probably better because we don’t get any noise because they tend to be quieter for the offense,” Holsey said. “So we don’t get any noise on the defensive side of the ball.”
Unless of course, the defense wants some extra noise. And in that case, Holsey knows exactly who he can count on to fill the silence.