The Razorbacks’ running back announced Tuesday that he will return to school next season, deciding against entering the NFL draft after missing every game last year as he recovered from a fractured left ankle.
The junior led all Southeastern Conference running backs with 1,322 yards rushing as a sophomore last season, but he went down Aug. 11 when a defensive lineman fell on his ankle during a scrimmage. It was the third time he had broken an ankle, dating to high school, though the other two were the right one.
The fifth-ranked Razorbacks finished the season 11-2 and won the Cotton Bowl without Davis. The 11 wins tied a school record, and the top-five finish was the school’s first since 1977. Its only two losses were to No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 LSU, and the chance at returning and competing for SEC and national titles were too much for Davis to pass up.
”I have made the decision to return to the University of Arkansas for the 2012 season as I am determined to help this program accomplish the goals we have set in place,” Davis said in a statement. ”My injury was unfortunate, but I feel I have worked extremely hard for the opportunity to lead the Razorbacks on the field.”
Davis was a preseason second-team All-SEC selection this season and had also been named to the Doak Walker, Maxwell and Walter Camp Player of the Year award watch lists. He burst onto the national scene last season as a sophomore, averaging 147 yards rushing per game over the final seven contest of the season and helping Arkansas reach its first BCS game at the Sugar Bowl.
He returned to practice late this season, but Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino said Davis wasn’t ready to return to game action. Davis was dressed out and did go through pregame warm-ups before Arkansas’ win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, but he didn’t play.