Drake Davis remembers being angry.
Why did Dylan Moses get an LSU scholarship offer as a seventh-grader?
After all, Davis was a year older than Moses. The two junior high football players played the same position, too, and Davis thought he was just as good.
Where was his offer?
“I was rocking people. I was running a 4.5-second (40-yard dash),” Davis said during an interview this summer. “After that year, that’s when Dylan was offered by LSU, and he (later) committed.
“It took me five years to get an offer,” Davis said, now laughing about the experience.
Davis got the last laugh. While Moses revs up for his high school’s preseason camp at IMG Academy in Florida, Davis participated in his first preseason camp — the college version. The freshman reported to LSU on Wednesday and practiced Thursday afternoon on the same campus in which his father is a notorious figure.
The highly rated receiver is the son of Lester Earl, the former LSU basketball player whose testimony landed the Tigers on NCAA probation in 1998.
But that’s not how Davis wants to be known.
The 6-foot-3, 212-pounder hopes to make a freshman splash, a rookie leap — like so many others in the 2016 signing class.
He is one of a handful of hotly recruited signees, all of them part of that third-ranked class, who participated in the first day of preseason camp Thursday. All but one of the 24 signees — Edna Karr defensive lineman Andre Anthony is redshirting after being ruled ineligible — reported to campus Wednesday.
This is a return home for Davis, a Baton Rouge native who attended four high schools. He recently spent much of his time out of state, at Fort Union Military Academy in Virginia and then IMG Academy in Florida last year.
Davis attended St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and Dunham in Baton Rouge as a high school freshman and sophomore.
It’s all led him back here, to LSU.
“I’m pretty pumped to come home,” he said before enrolling in June.
He’ll practice up the road from his childhood home near Highland and Perkins roads, just down the street from his favorite theater at Perkins Rowe. He’ll be near his mother, Stephanie, a short drive to eat his favorite home-cooked meal — shrimp fettuccine and fried chicken.
And he’ll race around on the same field as those who helped LSU to a national title in 2007. That’s the year he fell in love, he says, with the Tigers.
“It was a crazy year,” Davis said. “That’s when everybody was so good. I just remember that everyone was all into that season. I was just starting to get recruited by them. It was a pretty good year.”
Can Davis help his new squad this year? Quarterback Brandon Harris says yes. Harris called Davis a “freak” earlier this summer.
“He’s 6-4 and runs a 4.3 (40-yard dash),” Harris said, “a guy who I think is going to help us a lot this year in different roles — special teams, wide receiver, anything.”
In a news conference Thursday, Miles suggested that Davis needed some tuning up, but there's no hiding the potential, the coach said.
"Talented, hard-working," he said. "A guy who can take snaps in big-time games."
Other rookies, though, are well ahead of Davis — especially those five who enrolled early in January. Two are at his position group, receivers Dee Anderson and Stephen Sullivan. Inside linebacker Devin White, cornerback Saivion Smith and outside linebacker Michael Divinity also enrolled in January and participated in spring practice.
White, a burly, 250-pound tailback-turned-linebacker from North Webster, appears to be the leader for playing time among the 23 rookies. LSU holds two practices each of the first four days of camp: a morning session for upperclassmen and an afternoon session for underclassmen.
White worked out with the veterans in the morning Thursday (that was no surprise). During one week of spring practice, White found himself rotating with the starting group.
OK, so starter Kendell Beckwith was out with an injury. Still, White raced up the depth chart in defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s new 3-4 scheme.
Aranda raved about White, and Miles said at one point during spring that White would be an “every-down player very quickly.”
“He has a natural instinct,” Miles said in March. “He gets up in it. Pretty special.”
Don’t leave out Smith, the Florida defensive back who, in the spring game, played cornerback with the starting group in the five-defensive back nickel set. There’s Rashard Lawrence, too, and Edwin Alexander, a pair of players who can help immediately at nose tackle.
"I think if you look at Rashard Lawrence (and Ed), you’re looking at two ready-made nose tackles that are big, strong, capable men," Miles said Wednesday.
Glen Logan launched into a padded yellow dummy with so much force that the sled rammed into a wall.
None of them, though, have the reputation of Davis. He’s a multi-sport star who has traveled the world. He played soccer in Italy, England and Germany while staying with friends and family.
He quit football to focus on soccer, in fact, only restarting in the sport for his senior year at IMG Academy, around the same time LSU offered him a scholarship.
“It started getting old,” Davis said of football. “I needed a reason to start loving it again. I just missed it.”
Davis’ father, meanwhile, lives in Kansas still.
“We talk, but not like every day,” Davis said. “Not every day.”
Lester Earl returned to Louisiana in 2007, a trip that inspired him to write a three-page apology letter to LSU, published through The Advocate.
In November 1998, at the conclusion of a 21-month investigation, the NCAA placed LSU on three years’ probation. The violations stemmed from an admitted cash payment of $5,000 from Dr. Redfield Bryan, an LSU booster, to Earl. Among the most significant penalties were the loss of two scholarships per year for three years.
“I caused great harm, heartache and difficulties for so many people,” Earl wrote in the letter. “I hurt LSU, and I am sorry. I took a small amount of money from well-meaning people who tried to help me and my family. I'm sorry I hurt them, too.”
Earl found out about his son’s commitment to the Tigers on his own, Davis said. He called his dad.
Said Davis: “He was like, ‘Congrats.’ ”
OK, admits Kevin Toliver, he felt slightly exhausted by the end of LSU's first camp practice…