UF Junior Shawn Davis celebrates the Orange  Bowl win.

UF Junior Shawn Davis celebrates the Orange Bowl win.

Former Southridge standout Shawn Davis entered his junior season at Florida looking to win a starting job at safety. Davis earned the role with his stellar play on his way to a breakout season and helping the Gators finish 11-2, capped off by a 36-28 win over Virginia in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

“It was a great win,” Davis said. “Last year we won 10 games. This is a big step to get to 11 games. We worked hard all week just to get this game and leave with a ‘W.’ We knew this was a good team. We just had to get a great game plan against them.”

The Gators never trailed, but Virginia (9-5) stayed close behind Bryce Perkins’s 347 yards and four touchdowns.

“We had to talk it out, keep our poise, and never flinch,” Davis said. “We had to keep playing as a defense.”

Davis was credited with four tackles in the game with a number of friends and family members in attendance.

“It was a great time playing in front of my friends and family,” Davis said.

Davis ended the season with 51 tackles, fourth-most on the team. He also had three interceptions—the firsts of his career--and three pass breakups in helping the Gators to their first 11-win season since 2012.

“It was a great feeling knowing that every play that I made my teammates were behind me cheering me on,” Davis said. “They knew that when I’m in the game they could trust me.”

While at Southridge, Davis helped the Spartans to a state championship his senior year in 2016, the school’s third title, first since 1993.

“It had been a long time since we won a state championship and it was great to win one before I left,” Davis said.

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