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Ray Davis aims to continue Kentucky running back success

The Vanderbilt transfer looks to continue the success of running backs at Kentucky.

Ray Davis Dylan Ballard - A Sea Of Blue

Although he is new to Kentucky, Ray Davis is no stranger to SEC Football.

Last year at Vanderbilt, Davis rushed for over 1,000 yards and rushed for over 100 yards in four SEC games.

That included a 129-yard performance against Kentucky in Lexington.

Now, he’ll be donning the Blue and White while he makes defenders miss.

#1 Ray Davis

  • Position: Running back
  • Measurements: 5’10”, 216 lbs.
  • Hometown: San Francisco, CA
  • School: Blair Academy
  • Previous school: Vanderbilt
  • Recruiting Ranking: 247 Sports had Davis rated as a four-star transfer ranked 125th overall and 11th among running backs in the 2023 transfer portal cycle.

Davis, a San Francisco native, started his career at Temple in 2019, where he rushed for 936 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman. He spent two years at Temple before transferring to Vanderbilt.

His first season at Vanderbilt was cut short by injury, but Davis came back strong in 2022, finishing fourth in the conference in rushing yards (1,042) and finishing with 5 rushing touchdowns to go along with three receiving touchdowns.

Davis decided to transfer to Kentucky, where he will lead a backfield filled with talent but not a lot of experience.

Over the past several seasons, Kentucky has had powerful rushing attacks led by guys like Chris Rodriguez, Benny Snell, and Boom Williams. Davis hopes to be next in line, but he’s acknowledged that he won’t be the next Chris Rodriguez, who left Kentucky as one of the program’s all-time leading rushers.

“People want to say that I’m ‘coming in to replace C-Rod.’ I’m not coming in and replacing that,’” Davis told The Courier Journal in an interview this past spring. “You can’t replace that. You can’t replace someone who is going to be in the history books forever. All I can do is try to add to that.”

With a (hopefully) improved offensive line, Davis figures to be one of the top returning running backs in the SEC in a league filled with top-tier backfield talents.

Kentucky defensive lineman Octavius Oxendine said he believes Davis is one of the toughest backs to tackle in the SEC.

“He’s one of the tougher backs in the SEC to tackle for sure,” Oxendine said at SEC media days. “He’s low to the ground, strong, quick.”

Davis will lead a backfield with Ramon Jefferson, who was injured last year in his first snap and forced to miss the rest of the season, as well as La’Vell Wright, who has shown some glimpses of his potential during his Kentucky career but struggled when Rodriguez was suspended to start the season last year.

Kentucky also added Demie Sumo-Karngbaye from NC State in the transfer portal, and freshman Jamarion Wilcox is expected to see the field, while veteran JuTahn McClain is expected to see significant touches as well. And don’t sleep on sixth-year man Ramon Jefferson coming off his ACL tear, either.

With several different players contending for playing time, it’s hard to say what the running back rotation will look like right now, but I’d be willing to bet we’ll see a lot of Davis throughout the season as a guy who consistently moves the chains for the Wildcats and picks up tough yards.

After watching him make play after play in Lexington last season, it’s going to be a lot more fun to see him make those plays while wearing blue and white.

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