No longer is the 6-foot-8, 330-pounder just a big player. The vastly improved offensive tackle is a big pain for opponents.
BROOKSVILLE - The defensive tackle steps toward the line of scrimmage and his first play of the night. His eyes widen.
That's not MY guy, is it?
Kris Davis, 6-foot-8 and 330 pounds, catches the look and reads the defender's mind.
"They wonder what's going to happen to them," Davis said.
On this evening, there is not going to be any quarterback sacks or stuffed running backs. Just a lot of exhaustion.
Hernando's senior lineman has that kind of psychological effect on opponents. You would too if you were an NFL-sized player on a high school field.
That's Davis, though there is more to the story than just a big guy playing a big guy's position. Davis fought through a learning curve as sizable as he is.
Starting the sport as an eighth-grader and moving to varsity as a sophomore, Davis' weight tipped toward 380, and he played like it.
"We couldn't even get him in a stance, let alone get him out of a stance," Leopards coach Bill Browning said. "He was just kind of a big, obese kid."
While "big" is a plus for a lineman, Davis could not do anything with the size. Opponents needed an extra step or two to get around him, but that was about it. He was an obstacle, not a foe.
"I had to learn to step with the right foot, where to place your head, where to bring your arms," Davis said. "Learn how to keep the defender off your quarterback."
Davis learned - and dropped about 50 pounds. As a junior, he was a blocking tight end, then this offseason Browning thought Davis was ready to take on a more pivotal position.
Davis was made into a "strong tackle," playing on either side of the line as the key down-blocker, the man who makes sure his opponent does not go anywhere.
"The strong tackle's got the beef and the strength," Browning said. "He's a load coming down on you."
Of course, No.77 is a load, period. In eighth grade, Davis needed a varsity helmet. Nothing in the middle school locker room came close to fitting. And now at practice he wears yellow pants. His teammates have white, but there were no whites in Davis' size.
Davis has heard every dumb question that can be asked of a 6-8 guy. "No," he always replies, he can't dunk a basketball even though his raised arms stop just a few inches shy of the rim.
Davis can't jump. What he can do is more than hold his own on the line. Opponents' initial stares acknowledge his size, but they soon find he can do something with the bulk.
"He's transformed himself through a lot of off-season hard work, weight work and quick-feet type drills," Browning said. "He's transformed himself into a good high school offensive tackle.
"Hopefully that will continue. Potentially he can have one whale of a senior year."- John Schwarb can be reached at 800 333-7505, ext. 1407. Send e-mail to email@example.com