Sometimes Keionta Davis needs to provide a friendly reminder to opponents that he was an All-American last season and is a bona fide NFL prospect for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
With pro scouts in attendance, what better time than this past Saturday?
The 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end had three sacks and three quarterback hurries in the Mocs' 30-13 home win over Southern Conference foe Virginia Military Institute. His sack total matched a career high, while the hurries set a new standard.
"Guys like Keionta Davis, Vantrel McMillan and Isaiah (Mack) that pressure the quarterback and get sacks make it easier for guys like (defensive backs) Lucas Webb and Montrell Pardue, because they're getting after the quarterback," said UTC linebacker Nakevion Leslie, who had five tackles against VMI.
"Every time he's dropping back, he's thinking about getting the ball out quick, so he may not make the best throw every time because he's worried about escaping pressure from those guys."
The Mocs set a season high with six sacks of VMI quarterback Al Cobb. The junior passed for 238 yards and a touchdown, but led by Davis, the Mocs pressured the preseason all-conference first-team selection all afternoon.
"He's a great quarterback," Davis said. "He works the pocket well, makes all the throws, so we knew coming in we had to get pressure on him, get him on the ground or at least affect his throws. We did a pretty good job in the first half, then in the second half we were able to get to him with pressure."
Davis leads the SoCon with eight sacks this season and now has 28.5 for his career, ranking second in program history behind former standout Davis Tull, another All-American who was a fifth-round draft pick in 2015.
"He's hard to block," UTC coach Russ Huesman said of Davis. "We've had every NFL team come out to see him this season, and they were here today. Excellent player, talented, no question about that."
His second multi-sack game of the season — he also had three against Samford — came with the Mocs slightly reeling after an eight-point loss at The Citadel the week before. Davis said he'll take the performance he had, although he wasn't pleased since he thought he "left a couple (sacks) out on the field."
"I just do what I need to do for the team," he said. "Come out here and just give it my all."
He had sacks in each of the final three quarters, with his final one coming on VMI's last offensive play as he shed a lineman and planted Cobb on fourth-and-6 on UTC's half of the field with 4:45 remaining.
"I think I had a pretty good game, but there are some things I could work on," he said. "I'm never pleased. I always want more, but I'll take it for this game."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.