'Hoo to Know: Davis' Humor Is Cat's Meow

By: Marilyn Payne Email
By: Marilyn Payne Email

Virginia offensive guard Conner Davis made as much of a name for himself during the 2014 training camp for his wardrobe at practice as he did for being one of the line's veterans.

Davis sported a collection of screen printed cat tshirts -- a tie-dye one, one which emulated the popular, "Jaws," poster from the '90's and his favorite, one with multiple cat faces on it -- over the course of August.

"It's an intimidation factor thing you know, cause the kittens have sharp claws and they have...I don't get near them for furball reasons, so there's that," he joked. "Growing up I had a kitten, now it's a cat and it was between a German Sheppard and a cat, so we went with a cat."

Davis' family does have a cat, Treasure, which his sister named. But Treasure isn't the reason for the shirts.

The lineman made a trip to Walmart the first weekend of August with a goal of finding the most ridiculous shirts they had to sell.

Davis said he hoped to continue an entertainment trend set by former 'Hoo offensive lineman, pregame roommate and friend, Luke Bowanko.

"Even if I didn't want to, I felt like I had to feel that void," Davis said. "I mean, Luke's one of my best friends, I don't have a Twitter but I'll go on his and read it just to see what he says.

"Obviously we miss him as a player, but we miss him as a person even more. He was that guy in the meeting room that kind of just brought us all together. When he left last spring, it was kind of quiet in the meeting room, so I was like, 'All right, this can't keep going on, I've got to do something to bring us back up to that level.'"

As if the shirts weren't enough on their own, there's the fact that 6'6", 250 pound Davis' purchases were the largest available, but still a bit, "sung," he said.

The fitting solution was for Davis to slit the collar of the shirts and cut off the sleeves, making them more wearable and more laughable.

"I think it's also cause like when you're three hundred pounds, you kind of get away with things that might look funnier (because of your size)," he said.

Davis jokes that he, "put the team before (him)self," when he bought the shirts, but there is truth in the tease.

After a winless 2013 conference season and an overall record of 10-2, the humor provided a lighthearted contrast to the grind of a improvement-focused.

"In the middle of camp, everyone was just kind of uptight and I was like, 'Guys, we're playing football, we've been doing this since we were in the fourth grade, lets have some fun out there,'" he said. "I don't know, I love to make people laugh."

"I've just kind of been that person who will, if everyone's like 'I won't do that, I'm not doing that, that's stupid, it might be funny,' I'lll be like, 'Alright, just give it to me and I'll do it real quick."

The graduate student, who started classes this summer in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies after finishing undergrad in May, acknowledges that the coaching staff and his peers had varrying reactions to his humor.

The main takeaway for Davis though, is that any positive reaction is one that will better what the team is doing on the field.

"You've got to play football and have fun out there," he said. "You play your best when you're confident, when you're having fun."

Even more important than the understanding that improved attitudes can turn into improved play is the understanding of what's been learned by the antics.

"I've enjoyed my time here because I think the o-line people that I've played with are the funniest people I've ever met," Davis said. "And as I said, if you can make someone laugh when in the middle of practice during a stressful situation, then you can make them laugh whenever.

"That's, you know, important in life."


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