Josh Davis racked up a lot of yards as a high schooler at Alta. But his Weber State football career false-started when the running back was hurt early in the 2017 season opener. He also didn't play in the 2018 opener at Utah.
But Davis' persistence paid off and he answered the bell, rushing for 177 yards and two touchdowns after getting the start in a Week 2 game at Cal Poly.
That kicked off what turned out to be a remarkable season that culminated Tuesday when Davis was named the FCS National Freshman of the Year, winning 2018's STATS Jerry Rice Award.
Davis is the second player in Weber State history to win a national season-end award. Quarterback Jamie Martin won the Walter Payton award in 1991 which, at the time, was equivalent to the FBS Heisman and given to the nation's top FCS player. In 1995, the Walter Payton award became the honor for top FCS offensive player.
"This is such a prestigious honor for Josh and for Weber State football," head coach Jay Hill said in a statement. "He worked so hard this year and took on such a load for us, and was an absolute warrior for us this season. He had an incredible freshman year and has a very, very bright future."
Davis will be honored at the STATS FCS banquet held Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas, the night before the FCS national championship game.
He followed his debut at Cal Poly with 104 yards against South Dakota and 218 more against Northern Colorado. That boosted him on his way to 1,362 rushing yards — most ever for a WSU freshman and the sixth-most of any season in program history.
Davis eclipsed 100 rushing yards in seven games and hit his season high at Southern Utah, rushing 36 times for 225 yards and two touchdowns.
He also added 193 receiving yards and 224 punt return yards (including one return for a touchdown), giving him 1,779 all-purpose yards. That's seventh-best in school history and, at 148.2 all-purpose yards per game, he was 10th nationally this season.
The award is voted upon by more than 150 writers, broadcasters, sports information directors and others.
OPETA, SITAKE GET AP HONORS
Two WSU football players were named to All-American teams by the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Senior offensive lineman Iosua Opeta was named to the All-American second team. He earned third-team honors last season and started every game of his final three seasons.
Senior defensive lineman Filipe Sitake was named to this year's third team. He started all 13 games this season at defensive tackle, recording 45 tackles (7.5 for loss), 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one blocked kick.