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Former Mervo quarterback Carlos Davis settling in at Western Carolina

Mervo quarterback Carlos Davis slips between Dunbar's Michael Harris and Tyrone Branch in the first half.
Mervo quarterback Carlos Davis slips between Dunbar's Michael Harris and Tyrone Branch in the first half. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

After leading Mervo to back-to-back Baltimore City championships, quarterback Carlos Davis began his next football journey with Western Carolina this spring.

Davis saw limited playing time with one rushing attempt against Samford for 3 yards and one passing attempt against East Tennessee State for a 44-yard gain this spring as Western Carolina finished with a 3-8 mark in a COVID flipped season.

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But he has plenty of room and time to grow with three years of remaining eligibility remaining due to the NCAA granting athletes an additional season. And he wants to make his mark as a quarterback, carrying the mantle of Baltimore City.

He took one class to complete his associate degree at East Mississippi Community College after playing a season at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.

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Davis planned to commit to a Division II or III school on Dec. 16, but his plans changed when Western Carolina, a Football Bowl Subdivision program, entered the fray later that day.

“The first day that they met me, they welcomed me with open arms,” Davis said. “We built a bond on the first day really fast. They also took me into the program, even though I had an issue with my class. I was finishing the class later [on in the semester]. Some schools weren’t trying to wait on me for my class to end, but they were. That played a big part.”

One of his biggest believers is Western Carolina quarterbacks coach Phillip Ely. Ely saw a number of plays that jumped off the page with Davis film in high school and in college. The third-year assistant was notified about Davis’ talent through recruiting coordinator Arketa Banks. Around mid-December, Ely and chomped at the bit to get him on board.

“The one thing that stood out the most was that he was a playmaker,” Ely said. “He made a lot of plays on tape, he fit our system and what we do and he had an electric arm, but he was also able to make things happen with his feet. One other thing too was that there were a lot of tough plays on there [his tape] that he had to make. It shows his toughness and what he’s all about.”

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While at Fort Scott, he completed 68 of 113 passes (60.2%) of his passing attempts for 833 yards, seven passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Davis found his way to 256 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

Before signing to play in junior college, Davis committed to Wesley College, a Division III school in Delaware. Wesley’s football program is now defunct with a plan for Delaware State to take over Wesley’s campus.

Davis trains with the likes of Poly’s Tyrese Chambers (Florida International) and Franklin’s Steven Smothers (West Virginia and Memphis) during the offseason.

“The odds are stacked against me because there aren’t too many quarterbacks from my city,” Davis said. “That gives me motivation. I’m like, ‘Dang. I’m really a player from Baltimore City — the inner city.’ People call us ‘the hood’ or ‘the trenches’. They’ve got different names for it. That’s motivation because I see people behind me that want to go D1 and they took the route that I was about to take with Division III and stuff like that.

“That’s in my head every time I step on that field — ‘I’m from the hood of Baltimore City where a lot of people don’t make it to college or take the route to get to college and give up after high school. The trenches motivate me.”

The dual-threat quarterback had to find a way to the big stage of Division I football and it took years of stacking good seasons. It all started at Mervo, where he had to continue to grow to find himself on the radar of college coaches.

Davis entered a program led by Patrick Nixon as a skinny, sub-6-foot quarterback in 2014. The young quarterback had to overcome a large learning curve with a high school offense.

“Physically, he got taller, he got longer and stronger in the weight room, but mentally, he just became a better leader and smarter,” Nixon said. “From JV to varsity, I remember him having a hard time being able to articulate his expectations of his teammates. Through his actions, I think a lot of kids became very motivated with the results on the football field. They definitely followed his lead.”

The young quarterback was “a tough act to follow. His presence around the program became immense, setting up a strong legacy. He’d bring his teammates onto the field before practice and hold them after practice to go over routes with the receivers and blocking concepts with his offensive line. Nixon invited Davis to coaches meetings, where he’d go over the game plans with them and they’d pick his brain about how to attack certain defenses.

In Davis’ senior year at Mervo, he went 67-for-104 on passes (64%), threw for 1,078 yards with 24 touchdowns. He also rushed for over 200 yards and five touchdowns. He helped Mervo compile a 17-5 regular-season record, winning two consecutive Baltimore City championships.

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