When Air Force and Navy offered scholarships to West Forsyth rising senior defensive lineman Josh Davis, he evaluated the schools purely on their football programs. Yes, his great-grandfather served in the Air Force during World War II and his uncle was in the Navy for two years. But Davis knew the Falcons and Midshipmen only in the context of how their football compared to Kennesaw State and Mercer, his other offers.
Air Force and Navy offered Davis the opportunity to play Division I football, but with a caveat – he’d have to go through basic training and honor a five-year service commitment after finishing school.
"Going out there," Davis said, "I wasn’t really sure."
On a visit to Air Force in Boulder, Colo., Davis got all the answers he needed. The Falcons were holding a Junior Day-like event for recruits. At one point, coaches brought in three former players and left the room. It was an unfiltered question-and-answer session, and most of the recruits wanted to know the same thing.
"We asked them, ‘Is basic training terrible? Can we do it?’" Davis said. "They all said, ‘[Air Force] brings in guys who are brainiacs and not very good athletes at all and they get through it. If you’re a football player, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to do it.’"
After thinking about it over the weekend, Davis called Air Force and committed Wednesday.
"I had always heard that you’ll find the fit, and I felt like I fit very well at Air Force," Davis said. "They were very excited about me up there, and I feel like I could get some early playing time."
Davis said he especially liked how Air Force plans to use him on defense. The Falcons run a 3-4, which means the 6-foot-2, 285-pound lineman would likely slide inside to play nose guard. With no one bigger than 265 pounds on the line last season, Davis instantly becomes Air Force’s biggest defender.
"They’ve been a little small the past couple of years," Davis said, "so they’re looking for some big guys. … They’re looking for me to make a big impact."
Davis acknowledged going to Air Force will be a transition. He knows after going through basic training he’ll lose weight, but he hopes to regain that weight by adding more muscle. He knows he’ll be required to serve five years after graduation, but he relishes the potential job security.
"I never considered myself military at all," Davis said. "It’ll be a change, but I think it’ll be good for me."
Davis said his commitment to Air Force is solid, that he doesn’t "want to be one of those guys who commits and then decommits and all that." His focus can now be on his senior season and helping West try to defend its region championship despite the graduation of several key seniors.
"We kind of accept the questions that we’re going to get," Davis said. "All I know is we have close to 70 guys working out this summer. I think it’s a collective mindset that we’re going to get out there and prove people wrong."