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Injury sidelines USF defensive standout Vincent ‘Smoke’ Davis for 2022 season

The veteran safety ranked second on the team in tackles last season.
USF safety Vincent "Smoke" Davis, conferring with then-coach Charlie Strong during a 2019 contest, ranked second on the team with 68 tackles last season.
USF safety Vincent "Smoke" Davis, conferring with then-coach Charlie Strong during a 2019 contest, ranked second on the team with 68 tackles last season. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Jul. 19

USF fifth-year senior safety Vincent “Smoke” Davis, the Bulls’ second-leading tackler last season and one of their captains, announced Tuesday he must give up football for the time being due to a neck injury.

“At this moment, it is not safe for me to continue playing football and potentially risk compromising my long-term health,” Davis wrote in a lengthy social-media message.

“This news has been extremely difficult to reconcile with as I expected to take the field with my brothers and have a year like no other. I have no doubt that our team is going to do something special this year.”

Long regarded as one of the defense’s fiercest hitters, Davis, 22, made 20 starts over the previous four seasons, totaling 102 tackles the last two years. In 2021, he recorded 68 tackles (including a career-high 13 against Tulsa and eight against Florida) with 1-1/2 tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and a pass breakup.

Among nine returning Bulls defensive starters, Davis could — in theory — return in 2023 if medically cleared. The 2020 season, abbreviated due to the global pandemic, doesn’t count toward his eligibility.

“Understand, I am no stranger to adversity,” Davis wrote. “I will continue to lean on the support of my family and the medical team at USF to make the best decisions for my future. My experiences over the past four years have equipped me with every tool I need to be successful in whichever direction I choose to go.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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