My my My my
Smiling shyly, running fierce
Davis looks set to take starting running back role this weekend

SEAN SPERRY/CHRONICLE Orenzo Davis keeps his feet in bounds against Washington State on Saturday.
By WILL C. HOLDEN, Chronicle Sports Writer | 0 comments
Orenzo Davis went to Columbine High School in Colorado. The school he would have gone to was a whole lot scarier.
And if it weren't for both stops growing up, the 5-foot-8 running back doesn't think he'd be in line for his first Division I start for Montana State this Saturday.
He says walking the often-violent streets of south Denver, less than 10 miles from where Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was murdered in 2007, had as big a role in forging his personality as walking the hallways at a school infamous for a tragedy that claimed 15 lives in 1999.
The neighborhood around Kennedy High School, which is the school Davis would have attended had he not moved prior to his freshman year, was daunting for obvious reasons.
But Columbine wasn't intimidating because of its checkered past. After all, Davis isn't much of a history buff. He prefers the present, and presently, Columbine is about as ethnically diverse as a portrait at Buckingham Palace.
"There aren't a whole lot of black people at Columbine," Davis said. "It was a little tough at first."
Davis also stuck out on the football field.
Even for the Rebels, a program that seems to perennially lead the state in rushing thanks to a run-first, wing-T offense that has won four state titles in the last 11 years, Davis was special.
"His athletic ability is very rare," head coach Andy Lowry said. "He has great moves, he is very strong and he is very fast."
But for Columbine, Davis did much more than provide another 1,000-yard rusher and a boost in its minority profile. He did his part, likely unknowingly, in doing away with stereotypes.
At a school where athletes - jocks, as the Denver media had insistently dubbed them - had shouldered much of the blame for what transpired on April 20 more than 11 years ago, Davis carried a strangely powerful shy smile.
It's not unlike the look of a mischievous trumpet player who just hit a G-sharp instead of a G or an honor roll student who just set the curve in algebra yet again.
"He was such a nice guy," said Annie Holden, a former student senator. "Every time you saw him, he was happy. It was pretty much impossible not to smile back at him."
It was the kind of infectious smile that can help a kid get away with a few slip-ups on his report card, something that Davis claims plagued him in high school.
"I just didn't work as hard as I should have," Davis said. "I really had a lot to learn when it came to being a student."
The University of Wyoming noticed. The Football Bowl Subdivision program, which had offered Davis a scholarship after his junior year, shied away from him as a senior.
Ditched by a Division I program, Davis decided to do away with the D's. And at least momentarily, that meant curling that smile into a snarl.
"He told us before he left that he was going to play Division I football," Lowry said. "He was ready to prove a lot of people wrong."
But the proving ground wasn't without a few bumps. Davis raised his grades at Palomar junior college in California, but some schools were still leery. That was until Montana State got a hold of his game tape.
The Bobcats are seemingly always confident in their ability to deal with prospects whose grades are on the fringe, and rightly so. The past two years, MSU has been 7-for-7 at helping previously ineligible players make the grade.
And once Davis, who rushed for 1,080 yards in his final year of junior college, was cleared academically, the Demetrius Crawford comparisons started tumbling out. They haven't stopped.
Crawford, the former junior college back who rushed for 2,182 yards in just two seasons with the Bobcats and is currently seventh on the school's all-time rushing list, is even getting in on the act.
He's not ready to anoint the first-year Bobcat the next King Crawford quite yet, though.
"He's shifty like me," Crawford said, "but he's got to be able to play every game. That was one of the biggest reasons I was able to do what I did."
After saying that, Crawford, who's working with the team this season, quickly added he hasn't yet seen the tape of Davis from MSU's 23-22 loss to Washington State last Saturday.
To put it simply, the 159 total yards Davis accrued against a Pac-10 team was Crawford-esque.
"His all-purpose contributions to the game were very strong and that's what Demetrius could do," Ash said. "I'm not afraid to compare Orenzo to him."
Time will tell if Davis is a chip off the same seemingly indestructible block from which Crawford was cut. But Lowry laughed at the notion that he isn't.
"Could he carry the ball 20 times a game?" Lowry asked. "Sure, the ball's not that heavy."
And as for Davis' personality, it's light. Just ask him about the hit that required six stitches which he received after the WSU loss.
"My helmet got knocked off and another guy hit me in the head," he said. "I thought I was straight, but then a Washington State guy was like, ‘Ewww!'
"I was like, ‘Aw man, am I bleeding?'
"He was like, ‘Yeah.'
"I was like, ‘Ooh. Coach, I need to come out.'"
Now the coaches are ready to put him back in. Ash said that in all likelihood, it'll be Davis' show against Drake this Saturday.
And for someone who's bounced around as much as Davis, he can't help but feel like he's landed in the right spot.
"I look around and I see the mountains and all these people who have welcomed me in," Davis said. "It feels like I'm home."