MONROEVILLE, Pa. – It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Derrick Davis Jr. as he plays his final season of high school football while closing in on the end of his recruiting process.
While Davis and his Gateway Gators are looking to defend their Class 5A title in the WPIAL playoffs, the nation’s No. 2-ranked safety in the recruiting class of 2021 is also making his final campus visits as he prepares to make his college commitment one week from Saturday.
Last weekend, Davis traveled to Columbus to join 10 of Ohio State’s 2021 commits at the Buckeye Bash. While they weren’t allowed to actually attend Ohio State’s home game against Nebraska or spend time with Ohio State’s coaches due to the ongoing recruiting dead period, Davis enjoyed having the opportunity to get to know many of the Buckeyes’ commits better and explore Columbus with them.
“It was a cool experience. It was cool being with the recruits,” Davis told Eleven Warriors after Gateway’s 14-0 win over Penn Hills in the opening round of the playoffs on Friday night. “We just all really chill with each other. All good guys, we all have the same goal, and that’s get to the NFL.”
Davis is making one final campus visit this weekend to LSU, where he says he wants to get “a feel for the campus and see if it’s the right fit,” before making his decision next week between Penn State, Ohio State, LSU, Pitt and Georgia.
While Penn State has been viewed as the frontrunner for Davis, who is ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the state of Pennsylvania for the 2021 class, he isn’t dropping many hints about which way he’s leaning, and his decision to visit Ohio State just two weeks before his commitment suggests the Buckeyes remain very much in the running.
Ultimately, Davis said he is “trusting my gut” as he decides where he should play his college football.
“If my gut tells me no, then that’s what it is,” Davis said. “That, and if my parents feel like it’s the right environment for me.”
Davis said he is looking for a school that has a “great campus, great coaches, great academics,” and he’s looking for the school that can put him in the best possible position to achieve his goal of playing professionally. He’ll ultimately have to decide whether Ohio State is the school that best fits those criteria, but he did say he talks to Ryan Day and director of player personnel Mark Pantoni regularly and he likes “how there’s always honest” with him.
“They’re going to prepare me mentally and physically for just me being dominant on the field,” Davis said on how Ohio State could help him achieve his goals.
We’ll learn next weekend where Davis plans to continue his football career next year. First, though, he’ll be looking to keep his high school football career going for a couple more weeks as Gateway plays Peters Township next week in a semifinal rematch of last year’s WPIAL Class 5A championship game.
He’s tried to stay focused on that goal even while making his college decision, and while he was proud that his defense held Penn Hills to a shutout on Friday night, Davis – who plays on both sides of the ball for the Gators and had a rushing touchdown and an interception on Friday – said his team still has “a lot to work on.”
“The score was only 14-0, that’s an extremely close game,” Davis said. “We just wanted it more.”