The 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman from Cumming, Ga., signed with the Falcons Wednesday, joining the team over offers from Navy and Wyoming. He spoke with The Gazette's Brent Briggeman on Wednesday afternoon.
Brent Briggeman: It's clear you had some choices in the recruiting process. What was it in Air Force's selling process that helped bring you here?
Josh Davis: Yes sir, well, over the spring I had several offers, with the two big ones being Air Force and Navy and then some smaller schools here in Georgia. I wasn't quite sure about the military process, so we decided to take a visit to every place where I had an offer. Me and my parents, we drove around, and flew up to Air Force. I just liked it so much and knew it was the place I had to be, especially because of what it's going to do for me after, how it's going to set me up and how it's going to make me a better man. I knew it was going to have to be between Air Force and Navy, and I just like the program at Air Force better and I think the coaches are going to help me become a better football player there than at Navy. That's really what it came down to between Air Force and Navy.
Q: Was Charlton Warren, who is now at Nebraska, the coach handling your recruiting?
A: Yes sir. Now it is coach (Clay) Hendrix and coach (Troy) Calhoun who are handling it.
Q: Did having coach Warren leave impact the process?
A: I understand that that happens. I was a little upset just because he was such a good guy. But at the same time they're hiring some newer guys and I trust what coach Calhoun does. I know he's not going to a hire a person I don't like. Every person that he has hired at Air Force is someone I like and my parents like. They're all good guys. I was sad to see him go, but at the same time I wasn't too worried about getting someone new that I would like.
Q: As a recruit, how did you take Air Force's struggles this past season?
A: It kind of motivated me to work a little harder. Maybe this means I'll have an opportunity to play and have a bigger impact. I got the whole sense from players and coaches that it was a rough year, there were some injuries - and they didn't blame it on that - but it was all just about turning it around. They didn't like the way this year went and I got the sense that they're going to turn it around and I want to help them turn it around. I think good things are to come.
Q: Troy Calhoun has traditionally shied away from bringing large-bodied linemen into the academy, citing the rigorous conditioning tests and other military factors. Being a larger guy, was that topic brought up often?
A: They talked about it a little bit. They said I'll be one of the biggest guys they've ever had. But I talked to some of the people who run basic training and all of the coaches and they said, you know, it might be a bigger challenge for you than for some of our smaller running back-type guys, but they said you're in great shape and even for a bigger guy you'll do great with all the long-distance running. They really weren't worried about it and they are really trying to look for bigger guys to fit in that defensive tackle spot. I'm not worried about it. I've been running every day after school since football ended just to prepare me for the football side of it but also really for the military part of it, too, to get ready for that.
Q: Did they talk much about the scheme you'll be running? They've run primarily 3-4 looks, but was there talk of that changing?
A: The last I heard when I was out there and working with coach (Matt) Weikert, the defensive line coach, was that he always talked about nose guard and d-tackles. I think sometimes last year they would switch around from 3-4 to 4-3, so I think they're going to stick with that same stuff. That's what I've heard. Obviously any of that can change, but that's what I've heard so far.
Q: Does the schedule Air Force plays, seeing a Notre Dame, Michigan or Michigan State in the nonconference and the chance to play a pretty good Mountain West schedule, did that weigh heavily on your decision?
A: It was definitely not my No. 1 thing, but once I had committed I looked and saw that I would get to go play on the blue turf at Boise State twice, those games at Michigan, Michigan State; get to take a trip to Hawaii. Even the bowl alignment that we have has me really excited. I think the Mountain West is a very good conference, and there will also be some good basketball games to go to. So I'm happy with the conference and that gets me excited.
Q: Is there any military background in your family?
A: My great-grandfather was a pilot in the Air Force and my uncle was in the Navy. So, no immediate family.
Q: Was attending a service academy something you'd always sought to do, or did it just materialize when opportunities began to present themselves?
A: It definitely materialized after I took a visit and I really realized what was there. I was never opposed to it, I had just never really thought about it because my father and mother weren't in the military and I had really never heard about it. After seeing what it could do and the opportunity to serve my country and everything they told me about, I really couldn't pass it up. The football part is obviously a big part of it, too.
Q: Air Force and Navy obviously target some of the same recruits. What did you see in their recruiting approach that was different?
A: They are really similar. The pay for being a cadet or student at either academy, those were really similar, and so were the career paths. The difference was just the coaches. The guys at Navy were really nice, but I could tell there were some coaches I might not have liked as much as others. At Air Force, every single guy is on the same page and they are all awesome guys. I could tell they were in it to help the players. Not to say that Navy is not, but I felt they could help me, specifically, the best to help me be a better and football player. That was the biggest difference I saw.
Q: Troy Calhoun has hired a number of Air Force graduates on his staff. You likely interacted a lot with defensive coach Matt Weikert and you mentioned that Clay Hendrix was heavy in your recruiting, and neither of those guys are graduates so maybe you didn't see it as much as others. But Troy Calhoun and Charlton Warren are both grads. Did you find that helpful to have grads around, and did you use them as a resource to ask questions?
A: The other guys were just as knowledgeable, but I know that for me and for my parents, knowing that there were so many on staff - and we met every single one - who had graduated from the academy, it was huge. They'd know certain things like maybe to lay off at a certain part of the year, or only push you so hard. It was good to know that, if they're yelling at you, they know what it's all about and they've been through it too. I did find it helpful to have that side of it.