Newcomers making an early impact
Terrance Bryant, left, and Tre Davis are making an early impact. Play Video
Terrance Bryant, left, and Tre Davis are making an early impact.
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Most newcomers to a college campus are just getting settled into a daily routine of sleep, school, socializing and video games, but not Terrance Bryant and Tre Davis.

Bryant, a Class 6A All-State selection from Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., is making the best of his freshman season by averaging over 9 yards per punt return including a career long 55 yarder for a touchdown against Charleston Southern in week two.

Not to be outdone by his freshman teammate, Davis, from Orlando, Fla., has played his way to top of the Dolphins stat sheet by leading the in tackles.

The always soft-spoken Davis arrived on campus as a transfer from The Citadel without a lot of fanfare and was not given an official number until two weeks into preseason camp. The linebackers returning for the Dolphins were a very talented and experienced group but they lacked depth.

He has added depth, and impact, early on.

“It’s my teammates really, the defensive line which is amazing,’’ Davis said. “They eat the blocks for us and the other linebackers and I make the tackles.”

Defensive coordinator Jerry Odom knew early on he was on to something.

"Oh, we thought he could play,'' Odom said. "Now we know he can play. He's young and has a lot to learn, but he has been as advertised.''

Through the first three games, Davis has 17 tackles (eight solo, nine assists), three tackles for losses and a pass breakup.

In his first game as a Dolphin, he recorded five unassisted tackles against the then third-ranked Georgia Southern Eagles. He followed that with nine tackles versus Charleston Southern (three unassisted and six assists). In Saturday’s game against Webber, he accounted for three assists as the Warriors tried staying away from the 6-1, 215 pounder.

At 6-2, Bryant stands a little taller in than most of the Dolphin wide receivers with whom he works each day at practice but the place he stands out is on special teams.

He provided a huge spark for his teammates in week two against Charleston Southern with the 55 yard punt return for a touchdown and has done great work as a gunner on kickoffs.

“I want to be part of this team anyway I can.” He said, “I enjoy the competition. I will help anyway that I can to make this team better.’’

He may be just the guy coach Kerwin Bell was looking for in the off season.

“Last year we thought we lost too much yardage in our kicking game,’’ Bell said. “On punt return, we let the ball roll too much and lost yards there and on the kickoffs were way too short, we gave the ball up at the 38-yard line on average to the opposing team. This year, both those areas have improved and Terrance has been a big part of that.

Bell particularly likes Bryant’s attitude.

“We’ve got three or four guys who can return punts, but Terrance came to the forefront because he has the ability to block out the guy who is coming down and has the inner ability to say ‘I’m not afraid to catch this ball in traffic’,’’ Bell said. “He squares every punt up and we feel very comfortable that he has that mentality that he’ll catch every punt. With his big body it gives him a chance to get banged a little bit and protect the ball.’’

The young Dolphins will get their first taste of Pioneer Football League action this weekend as they travel to Dayton to face the Flyers .The game will be broadcast on 92.5FM and on with veteran play-by-play caller Terry Norvelle announcing. The pregame show begins at 12:30 p.m.

- Tom Leonard