Some players call him old man, others just call him ‘Twuan, but Saturday night, fifth-year senior Antwuan Davis was just the next man up.
Texas adopted the slogan “next man up” in response to players who are forced to step up when the team loses a player to injury. However, with the news of starting cornerback Holton Hill’s season-long suspension combined with the injury of junior nickelback and team captain P.J. Locke III, it begged the question, who is that next man?
That question found an answer when Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley released the ball from his own end zone. The ball left Stanley’s fingertips and right into fifth-year senior Antwuan Davis’ hands. Davis returned the interception all the way to the corner of the endzone to give Texas an early 14-0 lead.
And just like that, Texas found its next man up.
“Once I had the ball, all I could see is the end zone,” Davis said. “I saw the whole d-line blocking, I saw a cornerback come over and throw a block and I said ‘Man thank y’all. This means the most to me.’”
This wasn’t just any ordinary pick-six for Davis, though. This was his payoff for the hard work he put in not only on the field, but in the class.
The defensive back found himself in a predicament last season. After getting redshirted in his his first season at Texas, Davis technically had one fifth and final season of eligibility.
However, in order to play, he needed to graduate.
“This is a guy that needed to pass an ungodly amount of hours in the spring and summer to graduate, and he needed to graduate to be eligible to play this season,” Herman said. “(Safeties coach) Craig Naivar dove into his life and prodded him and taught him and mentored him.”
Davis said he was forced to take five classes during one session, followed by one during an off period and another four during the summer –– all for one more season of eligibility.
As the summer came to a close, Davis received his diploma.
“The day that my diploma came in at the end of the summer and I was cleared for the season, I hugged coach Naivar and I hugged coach Herman because these guys really helped me get all the way through to where I am,” Davis said. “It was such an appreciative moment.”
Several months have passed since Davis got his hands on his diploma, but he said the younger guys on team still ask him about his five-year journey at Texas.
“These guys hung in here with me from spring from two years ago,” Davis said. “Some of the freshman are like, ‘Man how do you do it?’ I’m like man you’ve just got to be patient. You've just gotta wait till your time comes.’
Davis’ time happens to be now. Between Locke’s injury and Hill’s suspension, Davis was asked to step up. And he did. The fifth-year senior recorded a second interception in the second quarter and even recovered a fumbled punt.
After the game, junior safety DeShon Elliott saw Davis walk by.
“What’s up, old man?” Elliot asked.
Despite the teasing, which Davis promises is out of love, Elliott wasn’t surprised by the performance from that “old man.”
“He balled. I knew he could ball,” Elliott said. “I’ve been sitting behind him for two years. I knew when he got in the game, he was gonna take advantage of the opportunity and was gonna do his job and that’s what he did.”
Now, Davis can see the end of his Longhorn career. After the game, the fifth-year senior reflected on his journey on the 40 Acres and expressed his gratitude to his teammates and coaching staff for the help and opportunities along the way.
And for these last two games, the Longhorns are just asking Davis for one thing in return: be their next man up.
“I tell these guys all the time, I cherish them,” Davis said. “I cherish the guys that I’m in here with. Seeing these young guys develop, I’m like man I wonder what the older guys think of me now. Old man ‘Twuan out there with them young guys. It’s just a real appreciative moment. Having my last one in two weeks, it’s gonna be tough but I really feel like I’m ready for it.”