The East Jackson football program has tapped a college football dynasty for its latest assist-coaching hire.
Former North Dakota State safety Dominic Davis will serve as a defensive backs and assistant special teams coordinator for the Eagles. Davis won four Division I-FCS national titles as a player with North Dakota State from 2016-2019. The Bison have dominated FCS with eight titles in the last nine seasons.
Davis, an Illinois native, played wide receiver and defensive back for East Jackson coach Cameron Pettus when Pettus coached at Belleville West in Illinois. That familiarity, paired with his experience playing for a historic winner in college football, made him an ideal candidate to join Pettus’ staff.
“He actually knows my style. I have a great relationship with him. He’s hardworking. He echoes and epitomizes everything that I want in our kids,” Pettus said. “Plus, he’s bringing that success and knowledge that he had from North Dakota State.”
Davis had always considered transitioning to coaching to remain involved with football and give back after his playing days were over, and now has his chance. Davis, who was limited to just two games in 2019 with a torn ACL, said he had actually been thinking about Pettus one day and then received a call from his old coach the next day offering him a job.
“I didn’t even know what to say at first,” Davis said. “I was so shocked about it, and I accepted it right away because I was like what an honor to be working next to a guy who coached me and learn from him.”
Pettus remembers Davis’ excellence on the high school football field, recalling how he locked down future Miami Hurricane wide receiver Jeff Thomas one night. He said Davis was hardworking, coachable, skilled — and fast.
“Dom could fly,” Pettus said.
But he also saw signs from Davis in high school that foreshadowed a future coaching career.
“Just the way he talks to kids and people,” Pettus said. “He’s a great communicator. He pretty much ran the defense for us back there in the secondary when he was in high school. I didn’t have to worry about anything … He was going to make sure that we executed at a high level.”
Davis will now look to do the same as a coach. He’ll inherit a secondary that returns all-region performers Kahlil Watkins and Marques Greene, among others.
“We do have some talented guys back there,” Davis said. “I came in at the right time with a loaded group of DBs back there. We’re talented at DB, honestly. We’ve got a lot of guys that are possibly going to be able to play.”
Davis is already on campus at East Jackson and settling in to his new home in Georgia. One difference between here and North Dakota has been obvious.
“I can take this weather, you know. There’s some cold weather in North Dakota. Even today, it was like 40-something degrees,” Davis said last week. “I’m like, ‘Oh, it feels so good.”
Davis already had two ties to the state before relocating here. His mother moved to Georgia during his junior year of high school. The other connection? His cousin is Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill.
Davis said the two, who both played together at Belleville West, communicate constantly. When asked if Hill might make an appearance at an East Jackson practice, Davis said that’s a possibility.
“There could be a chance,” Davis said. “We actually talk all the time.”
In the meantime, Davis is ready to get started with his coaching career, looking to use the lessons learned from playing four years for a national power to East Jackson’s benefit.
“Keeping people accountable,” Davis said. “Just the winning culture. Not settling for just OK or average … I’ve been telling our kids, ‘We’re not average. We’ve got to play above average if we want to win games.’ Just coming from there, we keep everybody accountable, and that’s how we win games."