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Auburn’s Chris Davis much more than a one-play wonder

Chris Davis’ improbable return missed field goal for touchdown lift Auburn past AlabamIrBowl has been viewed millions times YouTube. |

Chris Davis’ improbable return of a missed field goal for a touchdown to lift Auburn past Alabama in the Iron Bowl has been viewed millions of times on YouTube. | Dave Martin/AP

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Updated: February 6, 2014 6:28AM



NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — You know Auburn’s Chris Davis as the author of one of the most amazing plays in the history of college football.

He’s the guy who caught the missed field goal in the back of the end zone and returned it roughly a million yards for the touchdown that beat Alabama on the final play of the Iron Bowl.

What a never-ending thrill it must be.

‘‘That was a wonderful play,’’ Davis said. ‘‘But I’ve kind of put that behind me.’’

Davis can’t go anywhere without being asked about the play dubbed the ‘‘Kick Six.’’ Meanwhile, he can’t go into the film room without being confronted by the terrifying monster that is Florida State’s
53 points-a-game offense.

You see, Davis isn’t just part of a highlight reel. He happens to be Auburn’s best cornerback, a true lockdown guy and a serious NFL prospect at the position. He’s also the second-ranked punt returner in the country. And that’s not all.

‘‘Chris Davis is the leader of our team,’’ Tigers safety Jermaine Whitehead said. ‘‘If you want something to happen, Chris gets up and demands it. To me, he should be the top corner taken in the draft.’’

Auburn deeply respected Davis long before he made the play that has been viewed on YouTube millions of times. He played in all 14 games as a cornerback and special-teamer on the Tigers team that won the national title after the 2010 season.

Unfortunately, the 14th game didn’t go so well for him. He injured an ankle on the opening kickoff and didn’t see the field again.

‘‘Hopefully I can last more than one play in a national-championship game,’’ he said of the Bowl Championship Series finale Monday.

A second title would be the perfect ending to a roller-coaster career. Auburn went 8-5 in 2011, then collapsed in a 3-9 heap in 2012. The Tigers have climbed nearly all the way to the top again. Along the way, Davis has fought through additional injuries — he missed two games this season — and become a much better football player. And, of course, an instant sensation.

‘‘I know I’m going to be remembered around this place,’’ he said, ‘‘and that’s a good thing.’’

Very good company

Florida State is trying to become only the fifth college football team to end a season 14-0. Auburn did it last in 2010. Ohio State did it first in 2002. And many fans of the sport will have forgotten that two teams did it in 2009: national champ Alabama and Boise State. BYU’s 1996 team also won 14 games but finished with one loss.

Streakers

Improbable but true: Auburn and Florida State have won five consecutive bowl games.

The streak that’s being discussed the most around these parts, though, is the Southeastern Conference’s seven consecutive national titles. The SEC’s dominance has been the overarching story line in the sport for a while now.

‘‘It will definitely be good to end the streak because that’s what all the talk is,’’ Seminoles safety Terrence Brooks said. ‘‘If you can end that, it would be good. You see it all year. You see a lot of analysts saying, ‘This is the best conference, and these are the best players in college football.’ It don’t mean nothing to me. If that was the case, it would be the SEC versus the SEC in this game. So there you go.’’

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SLGreenberg



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