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Sweet 16? Ryan Davis likely to become latest NFL draft pick from Lakewood

Pinellas County’s all-time leading passer set receiving records at Auburn and is projected to be a late-round pick.
Auburn wide receiver Ryan Davis runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Published Apr. 18
Updated Apr. 18

Lakewood High has never been extremely dominant outside of Pinellas County in football. Since the school opened in 1966, the Spartans have played in a state semifinal just once.

But the school sure does churn out NFL players.

Overall, there have been 15 players drafted. In 2018, Lakewood and Serra High (San Diego, Calif.) were the only schools in the country to have three drafted in one year.

Offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn (Georgia) was a first-round pick of the Patriots. Receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (USF) was picked in the fifth round by the Packers. And cornerback Shaquem Griffin (UCF) was a fifth-round pick by the Seahawks.

Lakewood could add to that list this year.

Ryan Davis played quarterback in his junior and senior years at Lakewood. Including his first two years at Northeast, he set the Pinellas County career passing record (6,760 yards). He went to Auburn as a receiver. After four years he became the school’s all-time receptions leader (178).

RELATED: Ryan Davis home for college finale in Shrine Game

Davis, who at 5-foot-10, 186 pounds is projected to be a late-round pick, believes he answered most questions NFL teams may have.

“I just feel like I showed a lot of the stuff I’m capable of doing in NFL systems,” Davis said at the NFL combine less than a month ago. “There was a lot of things at Auburn that I wasn’t able to showcase.

“Just a lot of my route running ability. I was kind of asked to do certain things, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t capable of those things but me being a team player, I was doing what I was asked to do. I feel like teams are not so worried about how I’m going to translate to the NFL.”

Ryan Davis gets a hug from his grandmother, Emma Davis, on national signing day in 2015. Davis announced that he would attend Auburn University. (SCOTT KEELER | Times)

As the draft nears, Davis is back in St. Petersburg and working out at Lakewood. His former coach, Cory Moore, remembers Davis’ work ethic when he was in high school. And it hasn’t changed.

“He’s the one who kept me working long hours,” Moore said. “He’d be out there still working long after practice. When he left then I left. Those were some long days.”

At Auburn, Davis got most of his playing time in his junior and senior years. His role was as a slot receiver, catching short-route balls and using his speed to gain extra yards.

One of the knocks on Davis was his ability to catch the long ball.

“I kind of knew (deep routes) was something that people haven’t seen,” Davis said. “People are going to go by what they’ve seen and you can’t blame the tape, but I felt like the East-West Shrine Game I was able to do so, by going out there and showing I could run routes and do different things, that I can win on the outside, that I could run different route trees and stuff like that, with me being limited at Auburn. I just feel like that platform allowed me to answer those questions.”

Moore said there was no question Davis could play receiver. And he doesn’t question his ability to do so in the NFL. The only reason he played quarterback at Lakewood was because he was too good of an athlete.

“He could play receiver for sure,” Moore said. “But if we were going to win, we needed the ball in his hands. But I think by him playing quarterback it made him a better receiver. He can play the position from a quarterback’s perspective.”

NFL draft

TV: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network

Round 1: 8 p.m. April 25

Rounds 2-3: 7 p.m. April 26

Rounds 4-7: Noon April 27

Times correspondent Robby General Jr. contributed to this report.

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