For four years, finding time to visit his hometown and alma mater was fairly difficult for Robert Davis.
The offseason life of a college athlete is full of more classes, workouts and conditioning, even if one is playing only about 105 miles from home. But Robert Davis is making up for lost time a little bit and has been around Northside a good bit lately, beating up the same machines in the weight room he used when suiting up for the Eagles.
That has been part of his routine since being picked in the sixth round of the NFL draft by Washington, which is going through a variety of adjustments, including finding a new general manager, but it appears the Redskins and Davis will be a fit.
“Robert Davis of Georgia State fits right in with the new type of receiver the Redskins have been acquiring this year,” www.csnmidatlantic.com wrote. “At 6-3, 219 he is a big target to go with the likes of Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick, two receivers signed by the team as free agents this year.”
Head coach Jay Gruden was quite positive after the draft.
“He has a skill set that is very interesting,” Gruden said on www.redskins.com. “He’s big, he’s strong and he is fast and he can catch. He was productive; I don’t know what else you want in a wide receiver ,so he is going to be an interesting guy to watch.
“He can play outside, run through arm tackles, so keep an eye on him.”
Part of Davis’ scouting report noted he came from a high school program that was run-oriented. Indeed, he caught only seven passes as a senior, fewer than Keshun Hill, Justin Burnam, Charlton Lane and Curtis Martin. That was also a number he at least matched in 10 games at Georgia State, including his very first one against Samford.
“Everybody wanted to look at those seven catches,” said Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler said, whose Eagles went 36-3 in Davis’ three varsity seasons, only two of which included him catching a pass. “I knew he was going to be a steal for somebody.”
Davis’ work ethic combined with his athletic ability were too much, Kinsler believed, to be so overlooked, and he said he just about resorted to begging to get Davis a look.
“I knew he had the potential to be a big-time receiver,” Kinsler said. “He kept getting better every year.”
Finally, Kinsler got then-Georgia State head coach Trent Miles and assistants down to Northside to look at Davis ... on the basketball court.
“I took them into the gym when he was practicing basketball,” Kinsler said. “And they could actually see him and see how athletic he was.”
And Davis got that final scholarship that year, turning it into a resume that included two first-team all-conference selections in the Sun Belt Conference and program records with 222 catches and 3,391 yards.
Kinsler knew how well Davis did against bigger college programs, which no doubt led to some second-guessing of his recruitment.
“I think some of them might have realized, ‘Man, we missed the boat on him,’ ” Kinsler said. “A lot of them realized, ‘Hey, this kid can play and he really was an SEC-type receiver.”
Of course, an eight-catch high school career does make it easy to overlook a player. But Davis and Georgia State showed that patience is a virtue.
“Sometimes, it’s just coming into your own,” Kinsler said. “He really started to understand and believe, ‘I am pretty good, I’ve got this ability.’ And they started using that ability.”
Davis is now working to at least maintain the stellar numbers he put up at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he was first among receivers with a 136-inch broad jump, second with a 41-inch vertical leap and third with 19 reps of 225 pounds.
His time of 4.44 in the 40 was ninth among receivers. That would have been fifth-best in 2016.
An unmeasurable adds to what the Redskins are getting.
“If you talk to Robert, great personality,” Kinsler said. “Very personable. He was always more mature when he was here. But when you get him on the field, he’s a fierce competitor. When he doesn’t do well, he takes it personally. If a defensive back gets the best of him on a play, he takes that kinda personal, as a challenge.
“In basketball, he had a little edge about him.”
Davis will try to become the second Northside alum in recent years to latch on with an NFL team, joining defensive back Steven Nelson, drafted by and playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kinsler sees similarities.
“Him and Steven both were very determined young men,” Kinsler said. “They knew what they wanted to accomplish and they weren’t going to be denied. That’s the biggest reason both of them are in the NFL right now.”