BY JUSTIN HARPER
NORMAN — Some might say Daniel Davis lives and breathes the sport.
"It's like an obsession, really," he says. "The more I play it, the more I want to play it."
Problem is, there's just no future in it.
Clearly we're not talking about football. Nope, try swimming pool basketball.
"Last year, we were playing three times a week for hours at a time," said the Norman North standout. "We had like 60 or 70 people cycle through. It got bigger and bigger with every game."
With summer fully upon us, pool hoops season at the Davis household is officially on.
"It's so much fun," said the T-Wolves' defensive end. "And it gets pretty intense. There are no fouls. The only rule is you can't choke anybody out."
Fortunately for Davis, football doesn't have to be his sole priority right now. He's already locked up a scholarship offer to Stanford, which resulted in an oral commitment from Davis during his junior year. He's already gone through the Stanford football camp, returning last week from Palo Alto. And as a three-year starter for the T-Wolves, he knows all the ends and outs of summer preparation for the upcoming season.
"That part seems like it gets easier every year," Davis said.
Well, it does for the rare few with Davis' trifecta of elite athletic ability, work ethic and drive.
"I'm more excited than anything," he said. "I look back at last year and realize how much stronger and faster I was than as a sophomore. And now I'm bigger and faster than my junior year. So, I'm really looking forward to my senior year."
For good reason. In May, Davis was clocked in the 40 at 4.53. And at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, he's built to deliver even more punishment than he has the past two seasons. But more than that is the fact the Norman North is returning to the 4-3 defensive alignment that Davis thrived in as a sophomore.
"We switched to the 3-4 last year, and I didn't realize how different it was going to be," Davis said.
Thanks to finishing fourth in Class 6A with 13 sacks as a sophomore, Davis was consistently double-teamed as a junior. The move to the 3-4 also limited his sack total, but he still recorded seven in nine games.
"Well, I was looking forward to getting 20 or so," Davis said. "That may be a high goal, but we'll see this season."
Davis totaled 76 tackles and an interception (which he returned for a touchdown) on defense and averaged 24.3 yards per reception and scored three times on 13 catches from the tight end spot. This season, in order to further utilize Davis' skills, he'll play H-back on offense. That will allow him to line up in the slot as a receiver or in the backfield as a runner.
Norman North coach Lance Manning knows he has a premier player in Davis. In fact, in discussing the state's top players, no name emerged whom the coach would rather have on his roster than Davis.
That's the sort of confidence Davis instills in coaches and teammates alike. And having already achieved that, there's even less reason to zero totally in on football at the moment. So, for the time being, pool basketball it is.
"We'd probably play all day and night if we could," Davis said. "But someone called the police on us for playing too late one time. So, had to shut it down."
Come fall, when Davis starts making noise on the football field, opposing coaches won't have that luxury.