CHAPEL HILL — Drew Davis wanted an opportunity to play major college football. Hell get his chance as a walk-on at the university that nearly a year ago fired his father amid a multi-pronged NCAA investigation.
Davis, a standout quarterback at East Chapel Hill High and the son of former North Carolina coach Butch Davis, enrolled last week at North Carolina and will be a non-scholarship quarterback for the Tar Heels. Larry Fedora, who succeeded Butch Davis as North Carolinas coach, said he invited the younger Davis to join the team.
We evaluated the tape as we would on any other kid, Fedora said. Obviously, he had some success at East Chapel Hill. His high school coach spoke highly of him. We told him if he wanted to be a part of our team at North Carolina, we would welcome him.
Drew Davis played in high school for Bill Renner, who is the father of North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner. The two developed a close relationship, the elder Renner said Monday, and that was one reason why Davis chose to walk on at North Carolina.
Davis produced impressive statistics at East Chapel Hill, which finished 3-8 last season. In an offense that emphasizes the passing game, he threw for more than 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns but still drew little interest from major schools.
Bill Renner said Miami was interested in Davis, though Renner wasnt sure if the Hurricanes had offered a scholarship. Still, Renner said he was expecting Davis to go to Miami, where Butch Davis coached from 1995 to 2000.
News that Davis enrolled at North Carolina caught Renner off guard, he said. It wouldnt surprise him, though, if Davis eventually competed for playing time.
Drew is a very athletic young man, Renner said of Davis, whos 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds. I mean, hes got a 30-inch something vertical leap and he just runs well. If Id played him at receiver, hed have been outstanding at receiver, too if he ends up as big as his dad, hes going to be somebody to reckon with.
In the weeks before North Carolina fired him, Butch Davis drew the ire of Chancellor Holden Thorp after Davis allegedly offered his son a scholarship. In an interview with The Associated Press, Davis said that had he remained the Tar Heels coach, his son would not have been given a scholarship.
North Carolina fired Davis, now a consultant with the NFLs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in late July 2011 amid an NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits and academic fraud. Davis has maintained he wasnt aware of any improprieties, and that he had no involvement. The NCAA did not charge him with any violations.
His son, meanwhile, arrived less than three months before Fedora will coach his first game at North Carolina.
Hes just like any of the other kids is the way I look at it, Fedora said. He doesnt expect to be treated any different and we wont treat him any different.
Staff writer Luke DeCock contributed to this report.