GROWING UP , Jordan Davis was obsessed with mythology. He devoured books about ancient Greece and studied the Egyptians. He still downloads TED Talks on everything from ancient civilizations to modern religion. His favorite stories were the Percy Jackson novels, about a boy who discovers he’s part god then goes on mystical quests, saving cursed lands and defeating ferocious beasts, ultimately restoring honor to a community that had long been condemned to a life as outcasts.
As Davis leads Georgia into its annual rivalry game with Florida , the anchor of a historically good defense for the No. 1 team in the nation, it’s easy to see the parallels between the mythology he loved as a kid and the story he’s scripting for these Bulldogs.
Davis was always different, bigger and stronger and somehow still faster than nearly everyone his age. Even now, playing in the SEC, surrounded by world-class athletes, Davis stands out. He’s nicknamed "Godzilla," and his coach, Kirby Smart, doesn’t disagree. "He’s definitely Godzilla-like," Smart said.
That Davis has arrived at this moment is still a surprise, even to him. In high school, he hid in bathroom stalls to avoid weightlifting, and at Georgia, he considered abandoning football amid early struggles.
"I can see how football was forced upon him," former teammate Michael Barnett said, "but it was like, ‘Bro, you’re big as hell. Come on.’"
Even if he comes off as a reluctant hero, this might have always been his destiny.
There’s serious Heisman buzz for Davis now, too — not because of the numbers on his stat sheet, which are pedestrian, but from the sheer spectacle of his play.
"I’ve never seen but one like that, and it’s Jordan," Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean said. "As big as he is and moving the way he does, it’s hard to believe until you’re out there with him seeing it every day."
And so it makes sense to assign some supernatural explanation for Davis’ performance. He has Georgia on the precipice of a College Football Playoff run, and he has perhaps the most cynical fan base in college sports believing that the football gods have at last delivered them a hero who will lead them to that mythical national championship.
But that wouldn’t capture Davis’ real story.
"It wasn’t handed to him at all," said NC State center Grant Gibson , who played alongside Davis in high school. "There’s not too many guys who are built like him, but he’s worked extremely hard to get here. And he’s grown into [his success]." Georgia’s Jordan Davis is the anchor of a historically good defense. Photo by Steven Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images AS A TEENAGER, Davis spent most of his time playing video games and DJing at parties. For a while, he hoped to turn his musical skills into a business. He went by the name DJ Oreo. The business didn’t last, but he still makes music with fellow Georgia lineman Bill Norton for fun.
But basketball was Davis’ first love, the one he still hasn’t quite forgotten. He’ll play a […]