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Quarterback Davis makes move from New Hope to Starkville


Matthew Stevens



STARKVILLE -- The perfect equation hit Starkville High School at the exact right time.  


Starkville High School football coach Jamie Mitchell needed to solve his quarterback problem and Brady Davis needed a home for his senior year of high school.  


The perfect fit became a reality Friday when Davis, a two and three-star prospect according to most recruiting services, withdrew from New Hope High School with the intent of enrolling at Starkville Monday morning.  


"You talk about the missing piece and I'm here to tell you, the doctor couldn't have ordered a better prescription for us in the form of Brady Davis," Mitchell said. "It's certainly a blessing for us to end up with him on our football team." 


Davis' transfer is already approved by the Mississippi High School Activities Association as his mother Rhonda has already moved to Starkville making it a legit and legal move by the family. Davis said Saturday, after he participated in Mississippi State's unofficial junior day festivities on the Starkville campus, that moving with his mom and the sudden change surrounding New Hope athletics led to his decision to transfer. 


New Hope has recently parted ways with Shawn Gregory after just one season as the school's head coach. 


"I was close to Coach Gregory and I'm not blaming the principal at all for firing him because I don't know anything that was surrounding that but having a brand new coach and system at New Hope wasn't something I wanted," Davis said. "You could say it influenced my decision at least a little bit sure." 


Last month New Hope Principal Matt Smith informed Gregory by voicemail that he would not renew him as the school's coach for 2014. The Dispatch reported in January, Gregory said there was a lack of communication between him and Smith. The Trojans went 4-7 this past season and failed to make the Class 5A playoffs in Region 1.  


"I was surprised at the decision yes," Davis said. "We didn't have a good year but I didn't think that would happen after just his first season and nobody seems to still know the reasons behind it." 


Mitchell and the SHS program become the instant benefactor to the entire scenario as the Yellow Jackets head coach made it clear his team will now be considered one of the Class 6A favorites to reach Jackson for the state championship game.  


"Brady Davis is a guy that puts us in the mix immediately," Mitchell said. "Obviously watching him on the other sideline before, we all thought he has all the tools to be a great quarterback." 


Davis faced the Starkville program in a 7-on-7 tournament this past summer and then faced him again at Davis Wade Stadium in August during the New Hope Jamboree at Davis Wade Stadium.  


Davis completed the 2013 season with 2,626 passing yards and 23 scores including a 506-yard performance against West Point that included a career-high six passing touchdowns. Since Mitchell has taken the job at Starkville, he's never had a classic drop-back quarterback in mold of Davis but also never had this highly recruited talent at the position in his tenure as well. Mitchell saw Gabe Myles sign with Mississippi State after playing quarterback at SHS but he and Princeton Jones were more considered dual-threat athletes playing the position.  


"Never in a million years did we think this was a possibility but once it was actually going to happen, we talked to Brady about his tool set," Mitchell said. "I would hope to think we're good enough coaches to let him be successful in our program. He's just too good a talent for it not to work." 


In Mitchell's spread-option attack, Davis was instantly attracted to SHS' talent base and the idea that he won't have to risk the outcome of games on his right arm any longer.  


"They have all their offensive lineman coming back, a great running back in Jacquez Horsely and two excellent wide receivers that I know of," Davis said. "I've talked with a lot of people on the team already and I'm not worried about how I'll mix in there at all." 


While having to convert Jones from wide receiver as a project for the 2013 season, Starkville still made it to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs before falling to South Panola 20-6 in Batesville.  


Jones threw two critical interceptions including one that was returned 45 yards and set up Henderson third score on a 8-yard touchdown draw play.  


"Having Princeton drop back and throw it on this defense was not how we thought we could win the football game and to put him in that position was quite frankly unfair," Mitchell said. 


In 2014, that idea will not exactly be as much of a unfair concept as Davis is already used to that scenario in his three years with struggling football teams at New Hope. In six games last season, Davis threw for over 250 yards and had multiple touchdown passes.  


Davis has already attended junior day recruiting celebrations at MSU, Ole Miss and plans to do the same at Southern Mississippi and Memphis this month. While the 6-foot-4, 195-pound prospect hasn't received a scholarship offer yet, he expects to continue to hear from Ole Miss, Memphis, USM and Louisiana-Lafayette as well.  


With the opportunity to throw passes to possibly Division 1 recruits Raphael Leonard and AJ Brown in his final season, MSU may open up a scholarship as well in its already highly ranked 2015 class to the new hometown product.  


After accumulating 3,927 passing yards and 40 total touchdowns in his first three years at New Hope, Davis is just finally happy to have a new home starting Monday.  


"I think the word I would use is excited," Davis said. "I'm excited to start at Starkville High School Monday and excited to get on the football field in the spring and excited to win some games after that as a member of this team." 


Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.



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