For years, players at Colerain High School have been gravitating toward UC. It started with the dynasty Kerry Coombs built while a head coach there and has continued since Coombs moved on to UC under Brian Kelly, and now Butch Jones.
When you think of Colerain, you think of fast and athletic guys. You can go back to Doug Monaghan at safety a few years back or more recently to Terrill Byrd on the defensive line and Dominick Goodman at wide receiver (by the way both are playing indoor ball for the Commandos at Cincinnati Gardens now).
What you probably don't think of is offensive linemen. Then again, who do you think sprung all those blocks for Dominick Goodman when he was riddling Division I defenses in the state of Ohio as a running quarterback?
While he was too young to block for Goodman at Colerain, Evan Davis is one of those guys that loves the "dirty work" and works hard so others look good.
"Working the trenches," said Davis of his trade.
Davis is now a junior for the Bearcats and is in line to start at center. Or perhaps move over to guard if Jason Kelce plays some center. Either way, he's getting good guidance from some of UC's veteran linemen as he steps to the front of the depth chart.
"I'm playing next to two guys who have been veterans for me and helped me fill this role," said Davis. "Obviously, I'm filling in big shoes for Chris Jurek last year, who was a great player. So far, it's been going great."
Most of Evan's success can be credited to Jason Kelce who had to endure his share of "hard knocks" to get to his position. Offensive linemen are always a unique bunch and this crew is no different.
"He's been helping me," said Davis of Kelce. "He's been helping me make calls and everything. He's been great. That's how it is."
The big guys seem to run in a pack and have one another's backs, just as they "have the back" of "the back" in the Bearcat run game.
"We always are hanging out with each other," said Davis. "Outside of football, we're always together. It's a strong bond, we bond really well. We live together and we've got a good relationship on the offensive line."
Actually, most of this line lived together in a house along with one honorary offensive lineman...named Zach Collaros. Collaros is wise to befriend the behemoths as they are the ones that can make him famous. While some of the current housing arrangements have changed, there still appears to be an "open door policy".
"We're actually in the dorms now," said Davis. "But me and Derek Wolfe, we're over there a lot. It's Zach Collaros, Alex Hoffman, Craig Parmenter and Jason Kelce."
There's a reason Wolfe and Davis are often present at the house. It has something to do with culinary talents.
"Me and Wolfe always come over to cook," said Davis. "They always make me and Wolfe come over, but they always supply the food."
And naturally, there's always one messy eater who doesn't clean up.
"Jason!" Davis said pretty much before I finished the question. "Nobody argues it."
Away from the feed table, it's obvious the linemen communicate well. I've seen them instructing one another. During the season, I've even seen them dancing to "Jump Around" when it plays prior to the fourth quarter. This year, they're very excited to be able to move the ball on the ground a little more than in previous seasons.
"We're happy with it," said Davis. "We love to run the ball. We definitely love it a lot more, being able to run instead of always passing. It brings another thing to the table, you know?
We have great running backs. Pead, Williams, Goebel, all three of them. We have great running backs. I trust them 100% in the backfield."
Coming from Colerain, you have to figure Davis is used to run blocking as the Cardinals have traditionally run a triple-option attack. Passing was something pretty much reserved for the scout team as the current ex-Colerain crew knows. However, run, pass, offense, defense, it doesn't matter as Colerain has always produced fine football players.
"We lost some," said Davis. "I think it's just me, (Brandon) Mills, and (Colin) Lozier now. Of course, Coach Coombs where ever he's at."
Well, right there are four guys who have already contributed. Davis has been a back-up and now figures to start--same for Brandon Mills on the defensive line (a slightly smaller Terrill Byrd). And, Colin Lozier was a goal line fullback last season and just is your typical tough Cincinnati football player kind of along the lines of a JK Schaffer.
Then there's Kerry Coombs, who jumps and hollers like a madman and should be the poster boy for some brand of decaffeinated coffee. Without him and the legacy he built, you might never know if any of these kids would have made to the level they're at now.
They're all good reasons to have local pride and all good ambassadors to what's happened at Colerain and what's happening at the University of Cincinnati.
"Not only that, but it's our drive too," said Davis. "We grew up watching Bearcat football. It's our pride in our city, a great opportunity to be able to play for our hometown of Cincinnati--be able to 'Represent the C' . We just take so much pride in being from Cincinnati, playing for Cincinnati."