Princeton football coach Ryan Pearson said having a defensive back such as Teegan Davis was a luxury.
“Teegan was tasked with always covering the other team’s best receiver,” Pearson said. “Most of the time, it allowed us to either keep more guys in the box or bring more defenders to a three-receiver side and things like that.”
With Davis locking down the opponent’s top receiver, allowing Pearson to use the other defenders in different ways, the Tigers had a dominant defense.
Princeton allowed 108.6 rushing yards, 86.1 rushing yards and 12.8 points per game – holding six opponents to seven points or less with three shutouts – en route to an undefeated regular season, a fifth consecutive Three Rivers Conference East Division title and a third straight quarterfinal berth.
“I like to take as big a role as I can,” Davis said. “If you can shut down their best player, that’s a big key. If we can stop them, that helps our team out.”
Davis made 60 tackles (27 solo), intercepted eight passes – returning two for touchdowns – and recovering a fumble.
For all he accomplished this season, Davis is the 2022 NewsTribune Defensive Football Player of the Year.
Davis was the NewsTribune Offensive Football Player of the Year as a junior.
“His breaks on footballs set him apart,” Pearson said. “I don’t know how many times he made unbelievable breaks, some of them he ended up taking back for touchdowns. He did not have a ball completed on him until the last game of the season against IC Catholic. That’ a kid [KJ Parker] who had [multiple] Division I offers and Teegan held him to one catch.
“He’s one of the best lockdown corners I’ve ever seen. Any attribute you can think of that you want a defensive back to have, Teegan excelled at.”
Pearson said Davis “possesses some God-given natural ability,” but he also works hard in the weight room to get bigger and faster. He’s also extremely coachable, a great communicator and a great tackler, Pearson said.
Davis credits his “feel for the game” for his success on defense.
He had a knack for the ball, creating nine turnovers in 12 games.
“I’m a big numbers guy,” Pearson said. “I always play the percentages. Any time you can have a defensive score, you have like a 91% chance of winning. To have a player who can truly change a game on the defensive side is invaluable. I just can’t say enough about how valuable of a member of our defense and our team that he was.”
Davis was a game changer on offense and special teams as well.
Davis completed 85 of 142 passes for 1,638 yards and 20 touchdowns to only one interception while rushing for 766 yards and 17 TDs to lead an offense that averaged 47.7 points per game and scored 50 points or more six times. He also returned one punt this season, taking it 60 yards for a TD.
“He’s a true student of the game,” Pearson said. “He understands coverages. He understands how to read defenders. He understands where our numbers advantages are. He was really good at putting our offense in situations for us to succeed. We threw a lot at him as far as reads in the run game and reads in the pass game that we haven’t been able to do in some years past. Then you throw in the athletic ability he possesses back there. Defenses had to account for his running ability, so you’re truly playing 11 on 11 football.”
Davis finishes his career with a 27-3 record on varsity with an undefeated COVID-19 spring season followed by back-to-back quarterfinal appearances.
“I’ve had a great career,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to play anywhere else. I hope we left a big impact on the kids we got to play with this year and they go give it their all the next couple years. There’s really nothing better than playing for the Princeton Tigers. The community was great. It was such a fun time playing for this school.”
Davis will continue his career at Eastern Illinois University where he said his position is a “toss up right now” but will likely be defensive back.
“I’m just going to give it all I’ve got, hopefully get on the field and make an impact,” Davis said.
Pearson said Davis will succeed no matter what position he plays for the Panthers.
“I think the sky’s the limit for Teegan,” Pearson said. “I think he can excel at a multitude of positions. They can play him at defensive back. They can play him at receiver. They can play him at quarterback. He has that athletic ability and that competitive spirit that is going to drive him to be successful in whatever position they want him to play. What shows Teegan’s character is he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. Whatever the position is, Teegan is going to embrace it. He’s going to excel at it, and he’s going to make the other players around him that much better.”