Julius Davis-overcoming injury

University of Wisconsin running back recruit Julius Davis carries the ball for Menomonee Falls High.

The University of Wisconsin's offer to Julius Davis wasn't one that comes around too often.

Davis will move to Madison this summer as the Badgers' first in-state scholarship running back recruit since 2012, when four-star Vonte Jackson from Kenosha Bradford came to UW as a highly touted prospect before knee injuries shortened his career.

"I usually don't do this," Davis recalls UW running backs coach John Settle telling him when he received the scholarship. "I usually offer New Jersey, Florida, Texas kids."

The Menomonee Falls senior isn't your typical Wisconsin high school running back, though.

His breakout junior season opened the floodgates for offers from LSU, Notre Dame and USC.

A wild, 67-yard touchdown run against West Allis Hale to begin that year, in which he hurdled a tackler and broke away from several more, drew comparisons with Marshawn Lynch from USA Today. It also caught the attention of Sports Illustrated, which joked in a tweet that the highlight was like playing "on rookie mode with the fatigue off."

"I've just never seen those type of runs in high school," Menomonee Falls coach Dan Lutz said. "I've been around for a long time. ... I didn't see Melvin Gordon. John Clay, I saw him in high school, but Julius is a different animal."

The Badgers could be looking for a successor to star running back Jonathan Taylor next year, and Davis may be as good of a candidate as any.

For now, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound bruiser simply needs to return to the field.

Davis suffered a sports hernia just two games into what was shaping up to be a dominant senior season. He returned for Menomonee Falls' playoff game but only at 60 percent health.

He tried to avoid surgery initially, hoping physical therapy would ultimately rid him of the nagging injury. When his pain returned after the start of the new year, however, Davis didn't have any other options.

He underwent surgery Feb. 14 and was shooting for a six-week recovery period. Davis said he hopes to return before his high school track season finishes - something that could help prepare him for summer conditioning at UW.

"It definitely was hard just because I had a lot of goals (senior year)," Davis said. "I could see that I could reach them, that it was possible to reach them.

"It's always frustrating having the same injury come back, especially when you've done everything right to get it all healed up and stuff. But we're hoping the surgery went well and I don't have to deal with it anymore."

While Taylor once again enters this season as a Heisman Trophy candidate, the No. 2 job behind him could be wide open heading into the fall. Davis could work his way into the mix if he's able to outperform Nakia Watson and Bradrick Shaw.

Lutz remains impressed with Davis' work on third down - an area only Garrett Groshek has truly excelled in among current UW backs.

"He's very strong up top and down below. He can handle himself very well in pass protection," Lutz said. "I've seen him knock guys flat over in pass protection."

Davis said Settle told him he'll need to focus on getting the run game down first before having a chance to show what he can do in other facets of the offense.

The most likely outcome for Davis this year may still be to redshirt before competing for significant playing time in 2020. For now, he's not too worried about his rep count, but he's confident he can prove he belongs at the next level.

"I'm not going to go into college and be scared of anybody," Davis said. "That's just not who I am. I love the competition, the contact.

"It's a learning process. I'm going to go in and not be worried about anybody. Just going to play my football and do what I have to do."


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