Terez Davis always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
The son of 12-year NBA veteran Ricky Davis leaned on basketball through multiple moves between Maryland and Texas. The sport was the only constant in his ever-changing youth.
“My whole life I thought I wanted to be an NBA player,” Davis said.
Davis moved to Maryland for the second time after his brother’s graduation in 2022, he said. He enrolled at DeMatha Catholic High School, where he planned to play for the basketball team. But football coach Bill McGregor saw another path for him.
A year after stepping onto a football field for the first time, Davis collected nine Division I college football offers and chose Maryland. With the Terps, he’ll look to continue his rapid ascent through the sport and make an impact as soon as next fall.
“Kids don’t have that kind of size in high school,” McGregor said. “You see these young men playing basketball, you go to them and say ‘Hey, how about playing football?’”
At 6-foot-5, Davis blended in with the crowd on a basketball court. But on a football field, he becomes the exception rather than the norm.
With the opportunity to play football on the table, Davis had doubts about leaving his first love behind. He was already entering his junior year and, in his mind, had the height, jump shot and athleticism to be a successful basketball player. He also initially faced pressure from his father to stick with basketball.
But Davis’ mother, who he moved back to Maryland to live with, pushed him to try the new sport. She felt Davis would be a natural on the football field with his size, speed and athleticism, and she knew the prestige of DeMatha’s football program. Ricky Davis eventually agreed.
“I feel like I chose the path that was best for me and my mom,” Davis said. “My dad was OK with it because he knew I’d be good on both sides.”
Davis gave football a shot. But he knew he needed to improve rapidly after getting started so late.
“It was kind of like, ‘Oh, I only got two years to get it right,’” he said.
Davis entered his junior season at about 260 pounds, he said. He primarily played tight end but sometimes other positions on the field, making steady improvements as he settled in and his playing time increased.
After Davis’ first year, DeMatha’s offensive line was set to be depleted. Tree Babalade and Michael Crounse, the two starting tackles, graduated and moved on to South Carolina and Boston College, respectively. With two open spots, McGregor pegged Davis as his new starting left tackle.
“I knew his position was not gonna be tight end,” McGregor said. “He does it well, but he’s not the prototype.”
The position change presented Davis with a new challenge — he needed to add weight.
“I didn’t feel as strong as I needed to be in order to go knock someone’s head off or pancake them,” he said.
Davis spent a number of early mornings and late nights in the gym over the summer entering his senior year. By the start of the season, Davis added 30 to 40 pounds of “good muscle.” He can bench about 380 pounds.
Davis guided DeMatha to an 8-1 record and second-place finish in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference his senior year. As he nears the end of his high school football career, he feels his improvements from two years ago are “night and day.”
“You knew how good he was going to be,” McGregor said. “He just had to develop.”
Davis was one of the first commitments in Maryland’s 2024 recruiting class. He chose the Terps in part because his mother lives five minutes away and will be able to attend all the games.
“When I went over there it made me feel like I was at home, which I am,” Davis said.
The three-star recruit has only two seasons of football experience. As he grows more comfortable with the sport, Davis has the chance to become the unheralded star of the Terps’ 2024 recruiting class.
“His future is definitely in front of him,” McGregor said. “It would never surprise me if he was able to go past college football and go to the next level.”