Rose Bowl: Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis, of St. John Bosco fame, back home for second-career start vs. Washington
Wyatt Davis didn’t know how much he needed a pair of boots in his life until he moved to Columbus, Ohio.
The long, cold winters of the Midwest have a similar effect on many not accustomed to the harsh conditions.
A former St. John Bosco offensive lineman and current redshirt freshman guard at Ohio State, Davis described the first time he realized snow wasn’t just something that’s ‘beautiful’ to look at.
Davis and the Buckeyes had just finished an indoor practice late last season. Leaving the warm training facilities to brave the freezing elements — with a pair of low-top Vans on his feet — Davis stepped into the white stuff and quickly regretted his decision.
“Me and the snow do not get along. I don’t know how I left California without purchasing boots,” Davis said. “About my third fall (walking to class), I knew I needed boots ASAP.”
Even with his wipe outs, Davis has found his footing with the Buckeyes.
The 6-foot-3, 314 pounder will make his second-career start at the Rose Bowl when Ohio State meets Washington on New Year’s Day.
As a native of Southern California, Davis attended games at the Rose Bowl as a youngster and is well aware of the building’s vaunted history.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. Going to Ohio State, I never thought I would end up back in California. It’s something I can’t even explain,” Davis said.
So how (and maybe why?) does one leave Los Angeles for Ohio?
Davis was a five-star recruit out of Bosco after assisting the Braves to a 38-5 mark and a 2016 CIF Championship during his three years as a starter.
The big man had his pick of the nation’s top college football programs.
Davis’ brother, father and grandfather all played the sport (more on that later) so Davis had a pretty good idea of how tough the culture would be ‘once you get to that level.’
“If I’m going to work that hard, why not to go a program where I can develop as a football player and be the best person I can be?” Davis stated. “[The Buckeyes] are always finishing in the Top 5 in the nation. They always have a chance to make the playoffs.
“Why not go to an elite program and compete with the best?”
Nothing could top Columbus — or the thought of playing for Meyer, a coach with three national titles on his resume.
“My first trip to OSU, it was Halloween. They were playing Northwestern. The whole stadium was packed. 110,000 fans, screaming and yelling. I had never seen anything like it,” Davis recalled from his 2016 visit. “Columbus is a city so involved in its sports. My family and I were in shock [just how] crazy the atmosphere was [on game day].”
Jason Negro said the mentality to compete with the best, even if that means leaving home, starts early in the St. John Bosco program.
“We got out and play big national games against some of the best teams in the country. If that’s the message which you are sending your kids at the high school level, naturally, when they look to go to college, they look at schools which are the most relevant and give them the best chance to compete,” said Negro, the Braves’ head coach.
“[Wyatt] has just got better and better for them during the season. It was fun to watch.”
Davis still stays in touch with his high school coaches and even attended a game at the new on-campus stadium during Ohio State’s bye week. Davis will face two former teammates on Jan. 1 in Huskies’ sophomore running back Sean McGrew and freshman receiver Terrell Bynum.
“We’ve talked, but not about the game,” Davis admitted.
Sophomore left tackle Thayer Munford and junior guard/tackle Branden Bowen gather with Ohio State offensive linemen Matthew Jones and Kevin Woidke around Wyatt Davis after the redshirt freshman’s first career start at right guard. pic.twitter.com/kNALeGy9s3
— Garrett Stepien (@GarrettStepien) December 2, 2018
Davis expects 10-15 family members and friends to be in attendance in Pasadena.
Davis’ football family includes brother, David, a two-time letterwinner (2014-15) as a Cal defensive lineman.
And grandfather, Willie, is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame after winning five NFL Championships during his reign (1960-69) with the Green Bay Packers.
Wyatt Davis’ Ohio State career has already seen one championship of its own. The Buckeyes’ regular season ended with a Big Ten title in Indianapolis.
Davis made his first-career start in the game in place of longtime guard Demetrius Knox whose Buckeyes career was cut short because of a foot injury suffered vs. Michigan the week before.
“I got to get him a [Big Ten Championship] ring. Just seeing him smile … it was really surreal,” said Davis, who even lined up as a tight end earlier in the season.
“Wyatt is a guy that you heard us talking about him for quite a while,” Meyer said on Dec. 5. “… we [were] excited, because he’s earned playing time. We were trying to find a way without disrupting the cohesiveness of the offensive line, that’s why we put him at tight end, tried to get him in the game. He was ready to go.”
The Rose Bowl is the final game of Meyer’s Ohio State career. It will be strange for Davis and others to not see him around the program he helped bring back into the national title picture.
“It will be pretty weird, not having him as head coach. Being able to be around him, [he helps put] perspective on life. How to truly be a man,” Davis said. “I’ve learned so much. Words can’t describe that man and all he’s taught me.”
Davis said new head coach Ryan Day is ‘fiery’ and it feels like “nothing has changed. We have the same standards. He’s for real.”
The “slower pace” in Ohio’s capital city of Columbus, the nation’s 14th largest city, has been an unexpected treat for Davis.
“It’s nice to see something different. It took me a while to get used to it, my whole freshman year,” said Davis, who enjoys the many good restaurants of the Columbus area. “But there is a lot of stuff to do here.”
While Davis digs his deal in Ohio, it’s always great to get back to Los Angeles, especially for the most recent holidays.
Davis’ first stop after his plane touched down at LAX?
Excellent choice. Welcome home indeed.
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