Both on and off the field, this year likely hasn’t played out as Danny Davis expected.
The University of Wisconsin sophomore wide receiver served a two-game suspension to begin the season before catching just nine passes over his first four games.
Davis’ freshman-season form appears to be returning, however, and he put together his best performance of the season in the Badgers’ 31-17 victory over Rutgers on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.
“It’s been a tough season for him,” UW wide receiver A.J. Taylor said. “Everybody wants to contribute. Everybody wants to be the guy. And I think for him to have a game like this, it was much needed.”
Davis caught a career-high six passes for 60 yards against the Scarlet Knights, including an 11-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter in which he broke two tackles inside the 5 before reaching the ball over the pylon. That put the game away by extending UW’s lead to 31-10.
He also caught a 12-yard pass on third-and-7 two plays before his score, and his 29-yard grab on the first drive of the game put the Badgers inside the 10-yard line and led to Jonathan Taylor’s 5-yard touchdown.
“Danny is a heck of a receiver,” UW running back Taiwan Deal said. “He has great wiggle, speed. You get the ball in that guy’s hands, you just know he’s going to make a play. I know that was big for him, just getting out there, getting some nice grabs and performing well for the team.”
Davis missed UW’s first two games this season after his involvement in an alleged sexual assault became public in August.
Badgers wide receiver Quintez Cephus, Davis’ roommate, is currently suspended indefinitely and awaiting trail on second- and third-degree sexual assault charges for an incident that occurred in April involving two women. According to a criminal complaint, Davis was in the apartment at the time and allegedly took photos of the women.
Since his suspension, UW hasn’t made Davis available to the media.
Taylor said the support of Davis’ teammates and coaches made it easier for him to transition back into the lineup beginning in Week 3 against BYU, and Deal said he doesn’t believe the suspension affected Davis’ play once he returned.
“I didn’t see any distraction out of him at all,” Deal said. “Danny is a really good guy, and he seemed focused and ready to do whatever he could for the team at every moment of that situation.”
Regardless, it took a while for Davis, who finished off his freshman campaign last year with a three-touchdown performance in the Orange Bowl, to get going this season.
Over the past three weeks, Davis caught 15 passes for 163 yards. His reception total this season (24) now sits just two behind where he finished last year, and he leads the Badgers with 3.4 catches per game.
Even with the recent uptick in production, UW’s quarterbacks have missed other opportunities to get Davis the ball. Alex Hornibrook misfired Davis’ way a couple times against Illinois on Oct. 20, and Jack Coan didn’t see Davis break wide open over the middle of the field on the Badgers’ final touchdown drive against Rutgers.
It eventually paid off for Davis on Saturday, however, capping that final possession with his first score in six weeks.
“That’s tricky, too, because as a receiver, or it could be a DB, does it come your way?” UW coach Paul Chryst said. “It was good to see him be able to contribute. … I think it meant a lot to him.”
UW-Penn State kickoff time announced
UW’s game at Penn State on Saturday will kick off at 11 a.m. CST and be televised by ABC, the schools announced Sunday.
This week marks the Badgers’ first trip to State College, Pa., since 2012, when the Nittany Lions won 24-21. Penn State has won three straight over UW, the most recent coming in the 2016 Big Ten Championship game.