By DAVE LINK
Alcoa’s Aaron Davis had no idea what to expect when his 2020 football season began late last summer.
Turns out, he and the Tornadoes would be more than pleasantly surprised.
The sophomore inside linebacker was the team’s leading tackler as Alcoa (14-1) won its sixth consecutive Class 3A BlueCross Bowl.
“I really didn’t even know if I was going to start this year,” Davis said, “but when I got my opportunity, I just wanted to make the most of it.”
Davis, the 5Star Preps Underclassman Defensive Player of the Year, is busy in the offseason doing weight training at school and working out and running on his own.
He began playing football when he was 5 years old after watching games with his grandfather, Al Davis.
“I told him, ‘I want to do that,’ ” Aaron said.
Aaron’s mom, Fonda Davis, signed him up for football and he’s been playing ever since.
After also playing baseball and basketball and running track at Alcoa Middle School, Aaron became a football-only athlete once he got to the high school.
Davis said playing football for Alcoa Middle pays dividends at the high-school level.
“I feel like it’s really important,” he said.
“We all grew up together. We all played together, so it’s really like a family.”
Davis (6-0, 200 pounds) has football in his blood.
He’s the son of former Georgia star and NFL player Shannon Mitchell – a 1990 Alcoa graduate and one of the program’s best all-time players – and the stepbrother of former Alcoa players Eli Mitchell (2020 graduate) and Shannon Mitchell (2019 graduate).
“He’s got a good bloodline,” Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said. “His dad was a great player, his stepbrothers were great players at our school. He comes from a great family, great support.
“Aaron is a very, very unselfish kid. He’s a very quiet kid. He’s a good player, going to be a great player one of these days. He’s pretty mature for a sophomore. I think that’s what got him ahead a little bit this year, just a mature kid.”
Davis saw playing time for Alcoa as a freshman but had a breakout season in 2020 with 76.5 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss. He also made four sacks and caused three fumbles.
Rankin said Davis has a knack for finding the football.
“He’s got a natural ability,” Rankin said, “your linebackers, you like to have that natural ability to get to the ball, and he just reads and sees things in there.
“I’m pretty convinced that some kids have that sense about getting to the ball and just have a good feel about space and lanes and where they need to go, and he’s one of those players.”
IN THE FUTURE
Davis, who also plays tight end, likely will see an expanded role in the future for Alcoa.
“He could be a huge player the next two years,” Rankin said. “He plays some tight end, he’s a decent receiver. Most of the time we don’t put that double-duty on young kids, sophomores. But next year, he’ll have to contribute on both sides of the ball, and I’m sure he’ll be willing to do that and probably be happy to do that.”
Sure he would.
Davis has goals for the team and for himself.
“I’m really trying to win state again,” he said. “I’m trying to get some (college) offers so I can go to school for free.”