- Rod Davis and Etric Pruitt have made tackles, deflected passes
and snared interceptions as two of The University of Southern Mississippi's
most heralded football players in recent memory. Going into the
2003 football season, their talents have not gone unnoticed.
Davis, a middle
linebacker from Gulfport, and Pruitt, a defensive back from Theodore,
Ala., have earned countless accolades, preseason honors and the
respect of opposing players and coaches for their feats on the gridiron.
to stop the run - making the hit, a little contact," Pruitt
said with a smile, talking about what he loves most about the game.
But for all
their abilities and talents, Davis and Pruitt are helpless to stop
Father Time. The two seniors are keenly aware that this is it -
2003 is their last season as Golden Eagles. There's no mistaking
the emotion in their voices, the clear focus in their eyes, when
they discuss their determination to make their final season one
Even as they
come off the practice field drained from the oppressive southern
Mississippi summer heat, aching from contact drills against their
teammates, what's left of them physically and emotionally powers
their response when asked what they want out of this final opportunity.
want to be a better player than last year," Pruitt said. "I
want to help us win another (Conference USA) championship and get
us back to the Liberty Bowl."
fans would more than likely be thrilled with a repeat of Davis and
Pruitt's performance from last year. In 2002, Davis had 122 solo
tackles and two interceptions, and after the season he was awarded
the Conerly Trophy, given to Mississippi's best collegiate football
player. Davis became the first defensive player to win the award.
78 solo tackles and six interceptions last season. The two are touted
as preseason All-Americans by numerous college football analysts.
But both want even more as the game clocks winds down on their illustrious
When the Golden
Eagles take on the University of California Aug. 30 in the first
meeting of the two schools, the two seniors want nothing more than
to start off with a win over the Golden Bears - and to repeat the
result for the next 11 games.
To reach those
heights, Davis said he and the rest of the team must be willing
to pay the price in practice leading up to the season opener.
you're great, you have to be great at fundamentals," Davis
said, taking a quote from basketball great Michael Jordan. Overall,
Davis is happy with how the defense has performed during August
drills. "It's coming together. Every day, we're getting better."
The two only
discuss personal accomplishments in the context of what it means
in helping Southern Miss meet team goals, continuing the tradition
of excellence associated with Southern Miss' "Nasty Bunch"
defense, and getting the Golden Eagles back to what they consider
their rightful place - as C-USA champions and the toast of Memphis
come this New Year's Eve.
want to go out with a bang, with no regrets," said Davis, who
says he's been happy overall with the defense's performance in practice
leading up to the season opener. "I want to do everything I
can to help us win, and be able to hold my head up high when it's