Iowa Hawkeyes DT Carl Davis a star on the rise

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If you have followed college football for a while, you know all about "spring teases" -- players that star in spring practice yet never do anything in the fall.

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Iowa coaches are happy that junior defensive tackle Carl Davis wasn't a spring tease.

Davis (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) didn't do much as a redshirt freshman in 2011 and had 14 tackles as a reserve last season. Thus, when he looked like a potential star in the spring, there likely were a few skeptics. But his solid play has carried over to this season -- he already has 15 tackles -- and he has become a key member of a defensive line that has been better than expected.

Iowa is third in the Big Ten and seventh nationally in rush defense (79.2 yards per game), and the Hawkeyes are one of only two teams in the nation that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown (Michigan is the other). Iowa also is seventh nationally in total defense.

Davis takes up a lot of space in the middle, and possesses much more quickness than you would expect from a guy that big. The Hawkeyes meet Michigan State in a key Big Ten game on Saturday. Tuesday, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio called Davis "a big, physical player" who reminded him of former Spartans All-American defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. Worthy was a second-round pick by Green Bay in the 2012 draft who started four games for the Packers last season. He currently is on the "reserve/physically unable to perform" list as he continues to recover from a knee injury he suffered in Week 17 last season.

Davis is tall for an interior lineman and had trouble maintaining his pad level last season. He has done a better job with that this fall and continues to refine his technique. He does a nice job occupying blockers, which frees up Iowa's trio of senior linebackers to make a lot of tackles. That trio -- middle man James Morris and outside 'backers Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey -- have combined for 113 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and five quarterback hurries.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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