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An Ode to Akeem Davis-Gaither

By Matthew Golden
SouthernPigskin.com
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Akeem Davis-Gaither will take the field as a member of the Mountaineers for the last time this Saturday, as App State takes on UAB in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Akeem Davis-Gaither will take the field as a member of the Mountaineers for the last time this Saturday, as App State takes on UAB in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The outside linebacker has been a part of the football program for five years, redshirting his freshman year after appearances against Howard and Clemson. With the National Football League in Davis-Gaither’s sights, we take a step back to recap and marvel over the production he’s displayed throughout his college career.

The Thomasville High School alum joined the Mountaineers in 2015 after being rated a two star prospect by a number of recruiting websites. During his senior season in high school, Davis racked up 115 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, five sacks, and was named Central Carolina Conference Defensive Player of the year. As previously mentioned, the linebacker would take a redshirt in 2015 and earn an extra year of eligibility.

During his redshirt freshman season, Davis-Gaither would see action in all thirteen games, standing out against New Mexico State, in which he totaled six solo tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. He would finish the 2016 season with 16 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a pass breakup, and 1.5 sacks.

In 2017, Davis-Gaither would make his first three starts of his college career when senior linebacker Devan Stringer was hampered with an injury. The North Carolina native totaled 10 tackles and a tackle for loss in that three-game span against Coastal Carolina, UMass, and ULM. The highly motivated  redshirt sophomore would finish his season with double the amount of tackles (33) from the year before.

The versatile outside linebacker would break out in 2018, his redshirt junior season. Davis-Gaither was named a Second Team All-Sun Belt selection after leading the team with 105 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss, seven pass break-ups, and three quarterback hurries. He would finish third in the conference in tackles per game, averaging nine an outing. In a showing against Louisiana, the fear inducing linebacker totaled 15 tackles and a sack in a huge win over the Ragin’ Cajuns. The Mountaineers would finish as Sen Belt Champions and defeated Middle Tennessee in the New Orleans Bowl.

Entering his senior season, Davis-Gaither was placed on the watchlist for the Bednarik and Butkus Awards. He would also garner attention from the Reese’s Senior Bowl, in which he would eventually be invited to, following the regular season.

Davis-Gaither would join the likes of Khalil Mack, Ryan Shazier, and Roquan Smith by totaling 94 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks in his senior season. He would become the 5th player in the Sun Belt since the turn of the century to have such a season on the defensive side of the ball. His 14 tackles for loss place him third in the Sun Belt, and while he ranks outside the top ten in total tackles, he’s one of two players in the conference to total at least 90 tackles with 4.5 sacks.

The versatile member of the front seven led the Mountaineers to the highest ranked rush defense and total defense in the Sun Belt Conference. 

After a phenomenal senior season, the 6’2’’ linebacker has one more outing as a Mountaineer and a chance to pile on to his already impressive resume. While his size may be of question at the next level, he plays with top notch instincts, a very high motor, and more than enough power. His versatility will allow him to make plays on special teams, rushing the quarterback, and cover from sideline to sideline.

This might be his last game as a Mountaineer, but this won’t be the last time you hear about Akeem Davis-Gaither.