High School Football

Clock is ticking for West running back Kriston Davis to make his college choice

The recruiting door to Belleville West senior running back/defensive back Kriston Davis is closing quickly.

Davis, the Maroons’ all-time leading rusher with 2,940 yards along with 34 touchdowns, intends to sign a national letter of intent Feb. 7.

He has offers from Southeast Missouri State, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Northwest Missouri, but won’t say which direction he’s leaning.

He is taking an NCAA-paid visit to Illinois State this weekend, and remains in contact with Eastern Kentucky, South Dakota and North Dakota State.

“It’s been a fun process. It’s stressful at the same time,” Davis said.

Davis acknowledges that his size probably has deterred some schools from recruiting him. He stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 180 pounds. But those are statistics he sheds as easily as a linebacker trying to take him to the turf.

“I understand my size is a huge factor,” Davis said. “But I still feel that the way I play the game and how passionate I am for the game — and my IQ — when I get on the field, it really doesn’t matter if I’m 6-2 or 5-5. I’m out there making plays regardless.

“I’m all-state. What else can you say?”

Kriston Davis
Belleville West running back Kriston Davis pushes forward for yardage during a game against Belleville East in 2016. BND photo

Davis said he will remain at 180 pounds if he is a running back in college. If he plays safety or cornerback, he would like to weigh 190 or 195 pounds.

Davis prides himself in being a workaholic — on and off the field. Maroons coach Cameron Pettus said that’s an approach that will make Davis a star in college.

“He was a great leader for us in the weight room, and he works extra on his own,” Pettus said. “That’s how he’s wired. He’s a very focused individual when it comes to that aspect. That’s why I know he’s going to make some college very happy.”

Speaking on his passion for training, Davis pounded his fist into an open palm.

“Training, training, training,” he said of a routine that represents drudgery for many. “Summer workouts, sweating, grinding with my brothers. That’s all it is.”

Davis, a solid student who plans to major in kinesiology, enjoyed a stellar senior season as he rushed for 1,303 yards and 19 touchdowns on 227 carries. He gained more than 100 yards in seven of the Maroons’ 10 games. As a junior, he had 1,135 yards, 10 TDs and rushed for 100 or more in six of West’s 10 games.

On defense, Davis had 64 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery as a senior. He also stars in track, competing in the 4x100, 4x200 and the open 200.

“The defense I do not want to go against is a very disciplined, very coachable team,” Davis said. “They’re going to do their job every time. You could be the fastest team ever, but if you’re not disciplined, you don’t know how to play the game, and I’m going to score for sure if somebody’s out of position.”

Being at West has been “a great experience,” Kriston Davis said. His older brother, Tremont, was a linebacker who graduated from West in 2013.

“I love Belleville West,” Kriston Davis said. “It has taught me so much. It’s just a great program. I love the coaches. They treat me like I’m their son.

“It’s crazy how fast it’s went. I scored my first varsity touchdown my freshman year against Granite City. I remember it like it was yesterday.”

Kriston Davis defense
Belleville West’s Kriston Davis puts the wraps on Edwardsville’s Dionte Rodgers in a game last fall. Derik Holtmann/BND

Davis can get to the outside and break off a long run, but he’s just as apt to bust free from traffic at the line of scrimmage.

“His style fit everything we wanted to do,” Pettus said. “He’s got some shiftiness to him. Some of it comes from his dad (Tremont Sr.), some of it comes from his older brother. He was pretty savvy himself back in the day.

“I think (enjoying contact) is innate to him. You’ve got to love that physical contact and that style of play. It comes out on the defensive side, too. He’s a thumper. That all plays a part into what makes him such a physical back.”

Davis said defensive back was his best position, his passion, when he arrived at West as a heralded freshman in 2014.

“But when I got here, I played five different positions at the varsity level my freshman year,” Davis said. “Then when they (permanently) put me at running back my sophomore year, it just stuck and that’s where I stayed.

“But I feel like they saw how versatile I was. I had a high motor and played both sides of the ball the whole game. My body was durable for that.”

Davis, whose mother is La’Shawnda Johnson, said Pettus has “been like another father.”

“Words can’t describe what this man has done for me,” he said. “I love that man to death. I would do anything for him and he would do anything for me. Same thing with Coach (Bob) Flake. They’re my family.”

That makes it tough for Davis to leave.

“This is my high school, man,” Davis said. “You’ll never forget these days. It’s so much fun. It’s about time to go. I’m believing in God (that) he’s going to open a door. That’s going to be my home.”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm