NDSU's Davis not ready to concede Bison football career is over

FARGO — The graduation day is already set in December when Dom Davis will walk onto the stage at North Dakota State and receive his diploma. His hope is he’ll still be playing football for the Bison.

At one time a career that looked finished, Davis is giving it another shot. The senior safety partially tore his ACL and meniscus in practice in August, but did not undergo season-ending surgery. A few weeks later, he said it started feeling better to the point where he re-joined practice.

It caught him by surprise.

“Yeah, originally it was hurting pretty bad,” Davis said.

He’s been medically cleared to play and doesn’t wear a white jersey anymore in practice, which signifies injured players.

“I’m still part of the program,” Davis said. “I just want to be able to get a chance and go out there with the brothers that I came in with and finish with them.”

Davis was one of the top recruits in the 2015 signing day class from Belleville, Ill. He played in 11 games including one start as a true freshman in 2016. Injuries began to hit his sophomore year and carried over to his junior season, one in which he entirely missed because of the first time he tore his ACL.

Still, after the second injury in August, he still has hope. It’s doubtful Davis will travel with the team this weekend when the Bison play at Youngstown State. Missouri Valley Football Conference stipulations limit travel rosters to 64 players.

“And all have to have a critical role and help you on special teams if they’re not a starter on offense or defense,” said Bison head coach Matt Entz.

Entz said Davis is “probably not where he needs to be from a health standpoint.”

Davis admits his speed isn’t what it once was. His hope is to help the Bison on special teams at some point late in the season.

“I think I’m naturally fast, I’ve always had speed,” Davis said.

If he does return, he wouldn’t be the first Bison player to return with an ACL injury that wasn’t surgically repaired. NDSU assistant coach Grant Olson, when he played linebacker with the Bison, suffered an ACL tear during his senior year in 2013 and delayed surgery until after the season.

Then-Bison head coach Craig Bohl announced on Monday following the injury that Olson’s career was over. It wasn’t. Olson played in the Division I FCS national title game against Towson. Defensive end Jeremy Gordon also played through a torn ACL that season.

Now Davis is giving it a shot.

“I figured why not give it a chance,” Davis said. “I didn’t want to end my career with not being able to go out there and at least try.”