As it is for most high school football players, the recruiting process was difficult for Highland running back Max Davis.
The class of 2021 back took a year off from football to weigh his options, which many believe were short of what the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder deserved after the career he had for Highland at the varsity level. But nonetheless, Davis stuck to the process while working out with Highland linebackers coach Dominic Willis and on Friday announced he would attend Southern Utah University to continue his football career after he serves his two-year church mission.
“I’m not going to lie, it feels great,” Davis said, referring to the end of his recruitment process. “I can’t wait to get up to SUU and make some things happen.”
Davis announced his commitment during a workout with several of his former teammates at Discovery Park in Gilbert. It’s the same field he began playing pop warner football at a young age, and the one where he constantly put in offseason work throughout the summers.
The workouts are led by Highland linebackers coach Dominic Willis and secondary coach D’Angelo Dunbar. Greg Toler, a former defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts and Washington, who has a son entering his freshman year as a quarterback at Highland, also led the workouts.
Davis credited them for helping him not only grow physically but mentally, too.
“These are the coaches that got me out here grinding to get me ready for my senior year,” Davis said. “This is where it all started for me. There’s no better place to sign than here.”
Davis’ career at Highland was encapsulated by a stellar senior campaign in 2020. He helped lead the Hawks to their first-ever state championship game.
He finished the season with 1,604 total rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 172 yards and 4 more touchdowns during the shortened season.
Against Boulder Creek in the 6A semifinals, Davis became the program’s all-time leading rusher. For his career, which includes three total years at the varsity level and one as the full-time starter, he had a whopping 2,622 rushing yards.
“My career at Highland is something I will never forget,” Davis said. “Obviously I wish I could’ve finished it with a state championship, but I’ll always have a deep love for the boys I played with. Shoutout to my offensive line. Without them I would have been nothing. Those five guys were the biggest dogs on the field every game.”
Southern Utah was one of the last programs to offer Davis. The opportunity came just two months ago in May, just before he received his high school diploma. He visited the school in June when the recruiting dead period was lifted by the NCAA after it was put in place at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Davis said the facilities and overall welcoming atmosphere stood out to him the most. The coaching staff shared their vision of him in the program and how he could make an impact right away when he enrolls in 2024. There was also the opportunity to be reunited with former Highland athlete Kohnor Cullimore and his younger brother, Kam, a linebacker. Kohnor became a role model for Davis when he was a sophomore during Highland’s magical 2018 season in which it nearly knocked off Chandler in the 6A semifinals.
But more importantly, Southern Utah has trust in Davis.
“They believe in me, they trust me and the coaches provided the right environment,” Davis said. “They want what’s best for their players. Kam and Kohnor will be there. All three of us, it’s going to be so much fun.
“It still feels like a dream. I can’t wait.”