Emotional debut awaits new Illinois State QB

Emotional debut awaits new Illinois State QB
Illinois State, ranked No. 11 in this week's STATS FCS poll, hosts No. 7 South Dakota State Saturday in a key Missouri Valley Football Conference game. (Photo by GoRedbirds.com)

When Brady Davis takes his first snap as Illinois State’s starting quarterback Saturday night against NAIA Saint Xavier, he is certain to be emotional.

“It’s going to be surreal,” said Davis, a junior transfer from Memphis who attempted one pass in his three years there. “It’ll be humbling. It’s a moment I’ve looked forward to for a long time.”

Brady Davis

Brady Davis

Prior to being a reserve QB for the Tigers last season, Davis spent his first year on campus as a redshirt and was sidelined for a full season by a knee injury.

Davis met lifelong friends at Memphis, teammates he called his “brothers,” who supported him during difficult times. One of those teammates, starting QB Riley Ferguson, stood up in his wedding.

At ISU, however, Davis has an opportunity to lead a team that plays in an elite FCS conference and has been to the playoffs in four of the past six seasons.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity,” Davis said. “I feel like this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

Davis welcomed his grandparents for a visit this week and expects more friends and family to be in the stands and watching from back home.

“It’s going to be just the start of God’s plan,” Davis said. “It’s amazing how He’s worked through every situation the last couple of years to get me to that first snap. There will be a lot of people in the stands and tuning in on TV who are going to be very happy to be able to see me do that.”

Three key matchups
1. ISU ground game vs. SXU defense: The Cougars opened the season ranked sixth in the NAIA preseason poll, then gave up 7.2 yards a carry in a 52-7 loss to 15th-ranked Marian University last weekend. ISU junior James Robinson rushed for 933 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago.

2. ISU pass rush vs. SXU O-line: The Redbirds have a bevy of young, athletic pass rushers. They face an SXU front line that allowed six sacks in its season opener.

3. WR Harold Davis vs. ISU secondary: An SXU junior, Davis had eight catches for 99 yards in the season opener after catching only 12 balls as a sophomore. He was the Cougars’ top offensive performer last week.

Game details
Illinois State hosts Saint Xavier, 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1. Game will air on NBC Sports Chicago Plus and the ESPN+ subscription service.

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