Football recruiters knew the way to Helix High School.
In fact, the path to the suburban San Diego school is well-worn.
Players like Reggie Bush (USC), Chuck Cecil (UA), and former No. 1 NFL draft pick Alex Smith (Utah) are only a few of the Scotties’ alumni.
Yet, only one school — Utah State — came calling for Jalen Davis four years ago. It didn’t seem to matter that Davis was the Grossmont-Hills League Defensive Player of the Year and an all-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) first-team selection. Most coaches couldn’t see past the cornerback’s 5-foot-10-inch frame.
The snubs fueled Davis throughout his career, culminating in a breaktout senior season.
The Utah State senior was named a Walter Camp Foundation First Team All-American earlier this month, and has also searned second-team All-America honors from both The Associated Press and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). Davis is just the ninth player in program history to earn such accoladres.
“I always have had to prove myself: Every game, every day, I have something to prove and get better,” Davis said. “They haven’t been giving me my due.”
That changed the week of Oct. 1, when the accolades started trickling in. Davis was named Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week, Jim Thorpe Player of the Week, and CBSSports.com Player of the Week.
Davis intercepted three passes in the Aggies’ 40-24 victory over rival BYU, returning two for touchdowns. The first interception hit teammate Chase Christiansen in the back and bounced into Davis’ hands for a 30-yard pick-six. Davis later intercepted BYU quarterback Koy Detmer Jr., for a 50-yard touchdown. The last one he took for 15 yards.
“My mind was blank and I was just playing and having fun,” said Davis of his three interceptions. “I was basically in the zone — anything that came my way, I’d take advantage of it.”
Davis added one pass breakup to tie the school’s career record at 26. Now he owns mark with 28 PBUs.
Davis’ big performance came a few weeks after he intercepted two Idaho State passes, returning one for a score.
Both games brought Davis’ name into the national conversation.
“To me, when I see him make plays in games I’m not surprised,” said Utah State defensive backs coach Julius Brown. “It’s his prep. The kid studies film and watches himself and his opponents. He’s one of the best I’ve coached. He has a knack when the ball is in the air, a great feel for timing. He is in the right position. He feels like he can get every single one.
“He has a lot of confidence and the reason why is the amount of work he puts in. He shows up on Saturdays. With him getting these awards, it shows our younger guys that there is no substitute for hard work.
“I hope this inspires others going forward. It lets you know that if you put in the effort anything can happen.”
Davis said he’s honored by all the awards he’s received, but one of his favorite acknowledgements came from his own sports information team. The Aggies’ social media feed included a highlight video and the headline “No Fly Zone.”
“It means the quarterback can’t throw the ball in the air,” said Davis, laughing. “All flights are canceled. Being a DB you gotta have (swagger), confidence. I know what I can do on the field and I believe I am better than whoever I am coming up against. Our whole team feeds off the energy; everyone brings their juice.”