Bearden’s starting left guard, a senior, appears on track to escape the considerable shadow of his famous father.
Antone Davis earned All-America recognition in 1990 and was the Jacobs Trophy recipient as the SEC’s best blocker before going on to a lengthy NFL career.
“He still needs to work on a lot of things, but he’s far better than I was at his age,” said Antone Davis, in his fifth year as director of Tennessee’s Vol For Life program.
“I was an extremely late bloomer. I only played one year of high school football. I had no real teaching and no real fundamental training from my high school coach.”
Antone Davis was hardly a five-star prospect coming out of high school in Fort Valley, Ga., and then Tennessee Military Academy.
He played mostly noseguard at both places, before being transformed into an all-star tackle by coach Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee.
“Coach Fulmer put the emphasis on sound teaching and good fundamentals,” said Antone Davis.
“Everything coach Fulmer taught me, I’ve instilled in Dakota.”
Dakota Davis said that’s one of the perks of having a father who has played at the highest level.
“He has been a major influence on my play,” said Dakota Davis. “He can teach me some of the techniques that other people may not know.”
Antone Davis also schooled his son to play with an attitude.
“The one thing he has taught me, as an offensive lineman, is you have to play nasty,” said Dakota Davis.
“You have to make guys wish they never lined up against you.”
Spoken like a true chip off the old block.
“I want him to be as nasty as he can be on the field, and a gentleman off the field,” said his dad.
Dakota Davis and the Bulldogs certainly proved nasty last week as they opened with a 59-7 win over Karns.
Friday night they travel to Powell as Bearden looks to continue its return to prominence.
Bulldogs coach Morgan Shinlever said that Dakota Davis has combined the influence of his father with a tireless work ethic to become a solid college prospect.
“This winter in the weight room, it seemed like Dakota was breaking his PRs every other week,” said Shinlever.
“In the offseason he really dedicated himself to the weight room, and putting strength with his natural size. He has added muscle to his frame, which has greatly benefited him. I think the kid is still growing.”
Along with junior tackle Nate Adkins, the son of former Tennessee assistant Greg Adkins, Dakota Davis has also emerged as one of the team leaders.
“We started off the season on the right foot, but the thing I really liked about the offensive line was they immediately came in (after the Karns game) and started looking at what they could do better,” said Shinlever.
“A lot of that was led by Dakota and Nate Adkins.”
Antone Davis said it’s just another example of his son being ahead of him at the same stage in their careers.
Dakota Davis said he already has received college offers from Charleston Southern, Mercer, Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State.
But Shinlever said an outstanding senior season could catapult Dakota Davis into that next level of recruiting.
“A lot of people don’t know that Antone was a late bloomer, and Dakota is kind of the same way,” said Shinlever.
Dakota Davis said he would love to follow in his dad’s footsteps at Tennessee, but as his own man.
“I’ve always felt like that was a dream since I was little,” he said.
“I definitely want to follow in my dad’s footsteps in the way he played, but I want to make my own legacy. I don’t want to be Antone Davis, No. 78. I want to be Dakota Davis, No. 72.”