GAINESVILLE, FL -- Malik Davis knows every inch of a football field.

The end zone is familiar territory, in particular, for this Florida Gator.

But upon arrival at Florida, Malik’s found himself in unfamiliar territory.

“Since I’ve been playing football, I’ve never been on the sideline until I got here,” Malik said.

In his first two years at Florida, Davis suffered season-ending injuries. His freshman year, it was his knee. Last year, it was a broken foot.

“It just taught me how strong minded I am mentally,” he said. “I know how much I love the game, so I just knew what I had to do rehab, whatever the coaches or the trainers told me to do, I did it.”

His view from the sideline also provided a heightened perspective of the sport that comes so naturally to him.

“It just made me love the game even more,” Davis said. “You just think about how much you miss it and think about when you’re watching games, oh, I would have did this on that play or I would have did that. I think the main thing is it just reminds you how much you love the game.”

Malik’s passion was on display every time the Jesuit High alum set foot on a high school football field. He’ll be remembered as one of Hillsborough County’s all-time greats after setting the career rushing record in 2016.  
Now he’s a part of a Florida offense that gets a lot out of its running backs.

“I just like the way the coaches use us in the backfield,” he said. “You know, they take us out, throw us the ball and get us in open field. Just let us show what we can do.”

Malik’s motivated to show what he can do this season. The Gators open with an old rival, Miami. But the opponent, doesn’t really matter to Malik. Running on the football field again is all that matters.

“It’s going to mean a lot,” he said. “It’s going to be my first time back on the field in a long time, so I can’t wait.

“It’s been crazy, you know. I’ve had a lot of adversity, so I learned a lot. It’s been speeding by. So, I’m excited for this season to start.”