CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Drew Davis wanted to play football at North Carolina for his father, Butch Davis. He’ll get the chance to accomplish at least part of that goal.
Drew has enrolled in summer school as a walk-on quarterback for new Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora, who took over in Chapel Hill after the school fired Butch Davis amid an NCAA investigation of improper benefits and academic misconduct.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the former coach said he and his wife, Tammy, supported their son’s decision despite the turmoil and hurt that followed his abrupt firing just before training camp last summer.
“I think he was concerned about how we’d feel,” Tammy Davis said. “But we just kept reiterating that it was his decision.”
“He wanted us all to be OK with it,” Butch Davis added.
The coaching change threw Drew’s once-set college plan into question just before his record-setting senior season at nearby East Chapel Hill. But UNC team spokesman Kevin Best confirmed Drew started classes here Thursday.
The school generally doesn’t allow freshmen to talk to reporters until after their first game or public scrimmage.
Butch Davis, who wasn’t cited for an NCAA violation in the probe, is currently a consultant to head coach Greg Schiano with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He said he met Fedora in the spring and also reached out to offensive coordinator Blake Anderson about the possibility of Drew joining Fedora’s program.
“We’re parents,” he said. “As much as anything else, you want what’s best for your child. This is what he wishes to do and we’re going to support him.”
Fedora said Monday the coaches reviewed Drew’s game tape and evaluated him the same way they would for anyone else seeking to join the program.
“We’ll get him in the program, develop him and see where that goes from there,” Fedora said. “I look forward to it. Really for us, we’ve got 10 or 12 walk-ons coming into the program. He’s just one of the guys and he’ll be treated the same way.”
After missing the last half of his junior season with a shoulder injury, Drew threw for 3,525 yards and 30 touchdowns in 11 games under Bill Renner. Renner is the father of starting UNC quarterback Bryn Renner, who is also close friends with Drew.
Drew put up big passing numbers in an offense with no running back and five receivers on every play. He set a state record with 43 completions in a September loss to Carrboro, completed 42 in a loss to Southern Durham in October and finished second in state history with 323 completions on the year.
He also threw for 488 yards – eighth in state history – and five touchdowns in a win against Durham Jordan in September.
Last fall, Fox Sports/Scout.com listed Drew as a three-star prospect, though he was behind in recruiting because many schools figured he’d play for his father at UNC and were already deeply involved in their own commitments or targets. He had originally planned to graduate in December and enroll at UNC for the spring semester.
The plan for Drew to play for his father at UNC even led to a secondary NCAA rule violation by chancellor Holden Thorp, who said a week after the firing that he was disappointed Butch Davis offered his son a scholarship without consulting Thorp or then-athletic director Dick Baddour. NCAA rules prohibit discussing recruits who haven’t signed a letter of intent.
The Davises said Drew wouldn’t have been on scholarship at UNC under his father.
Butch Davis said Drew made an unofficial visit to his former program at Miami, but he had long wanted to attend North Carolina. That never changed even though Drew will face extra scrutiny as the son of the former coach regardless of whether he plays a snap.
“He’s a good kid,” Butch Davis said. “He’s levelheaded. He’s pretty mature. He didn’t make this decision blindly.”