Ben Davis

Ben Davis is one of many college athletes who received an extra year eligibility thanks to the pandemic. After three years at the University of Minnesota, the Elk Grove High School graduate is finishing his college career at the University of New Mexico.

(Editor’s Note: Ben Davis has seen lots of stadiums in his, now, six years of college football. From the community college ranks at American River, to the Big Ten Conference at the University of Minnesota and now the Mountain West Conference at New Mexico, the 6-4, 290-pound offensive lineman has traveled a big part of the country. Now midway through his last season, Davis is about to earn a Masters degree which he hopes leads to a job in law enforcement.)

 Citizen: Do you consider this opportunity to play at New Mexico a bit of a second life in football?

Davis: Yes, certainly. I’ve been able to play in some of the biggest stadiums in America. Seven years ago I wasn’t sure I’d make in past (community college). Looking back at it now I can’t say I’d regret anything. I’m extremely blessed. And, I do think New Mexico has given me a second chance to prove, mainly to myself, that I can compete at this level and maybe, or maybe not, give me a chance at a higher level.

Citizen: You redshirted your first year at Minnesota, played two years and then you ended up at New Mexico. How did that transpire?

Davis: I entered the transfer portal (in 2019) and a number of schools hit me up, but I wanted to further my education because I graduated from the University of Minnesota with my B.A. in Law and Criminology. I wanted to further that but I also wanted to see if there was a (football) program on the upswing. Originally, I talked to my junior college coach, (Jon) Osterhut, and he was extremely helpful. He was good friends with the O-Line coach here. At the time New Mexico had a Masters of Global and National Security. That really intrigued me. At the same time they were getting a new (head) coach, Danny Gonzalez. I really liked the way he coached and that he was going to get this program on the uprise. I picked this place and got accepted into a program that was going to further me, a Masters of Public Administration.

Citizen: What do you perceive you are going to do after graduation?

Davis: I’ll move to one of the Four Corners states and become a police officer. I then want to go into the DEA, FBI or CIA.

Citizen: Getting back to football; what kind of season are you having at New Mexico?

Davis: We’re making mistakes that hurt us. We are losing games, well, at Texas A&M we went in there and I don’t think as a whole we thought we could go in there and beat them. That was the reason there. We’ve made lots of mental mistakes on offense, as far as self-inflicted penalties or simply execution on certain plays. I think that’s what hurt us. I don’t think we’ve been out-performed by anybody (New Mexico is now 2-3, 0-1 in the Mountain West Conference).

Citizen: The Mountain West does have some really beautiful campuses, but hard to compare to the football experience one has in the Big Ten. Was there any stadium there that you walked away saying, ‘Man, that was special’?

Davis: For me it was Wisconsin, Camp Randall Stadium, when we won the (Paul Bunyan) Axe my junior year. There was 97,000 people, going in there and beating them, that was a surreal experience. Growing up as a kid, an O-lineman, Wisconsin was the premier school. That was my dream school all the way up to JUCO. God blessed me with an offer from the rival and got to be a Golden Gopher. I got to do a camp at Camp Randall my junior year of high school and did well there, but at the time I wasn’t that big. I came back, attended American River and grew there.

Citizen: His (baseball) season is now over, but do you often talk to (older brother) J.D.?

Davis: I talk to him about every day.

Citizen: Has it been fun for you to go see him play, because I know when you were in Minnesota you went to a few Twins games when Houston came to town and he was playing for the Astros?

Davis: Yes, that has been special. Here I was at one time his six-year-old little brother and now being able to see him in the Bigs, and not only is he in the Bigs but he’s been there for a while. It’s been fun to see his name being floated around as being a really good hitter at that level, recognized by not just Mets fans, but MLB fans as a whole.

John Hull came out of retirement in 2021 to return as the Citizen's Sports Editor. He started writing sports for the Citizen in Dec., 2007. Hull retired from teaching Mass Media/Journalism at Cosumnes River College and Luther Burbank H.S. in 2019.