All-MVFC Sophomore Safety Earns Team MVP and Media Player of the Year Laurels
Saffold is Player of the Year
Bears All-Access caught up with the football coaching staff to break down positions going into the upcoming season.
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Former Bears' standout Gerald Davis will begin his fifth season on the coaching staff in 2014 and continues to coordinate the team's running backs.
The former MSU Bears' standout returned to the program in 2010 as a part-time member of the coaching staff and made an immediate impact. The Bears finished 11th in the nation in rushing offense (214.18) and 13th in total offense (425.45) in 2010 as Davis helped guide a solid group of tailbacks in his debut coaching season.
Then-junior Chris Douglas was named to the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference squad as an honorable mention pick, while becoming MSU's 10th 1,000-yard season rusher. Douglas finished second in the nation in yards per carry (6.9) and was 27th nationally in rushing yards (95.55). Classmate Stephen Johnston accounted for 752 yards on 147 carries and had a solid comeback season after missing the entire 2009 campaign.
In 2011, the Bears replaced 80 percent of their offensive line and adjusted as the season progressed. Douglas tallied 511 yards on 146 carries, while Johnston closed out his career with 260 yards on 81 attempts. After the season, Douglas landed an NFL free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills and became Davis' first pro signee.
In 2012, freshman All-American and MVFC All-Newcomer Team selection Ryan Heaston paced the efforts of the MSU backs as he tallied 424 yards in just seven games while racking up nearly 600 all-purpose yards. Junior workhorse Vernon Scott also stood out, gaining all 11 starts and tacking on 343 yards, while Mikael Cooper-Falls tallied 3 rushing touchdowns and 318 ground yards with 4.4 yards per attempt.
In his fourth season on staff in 2013, Davis' troops racked up 2,149 rushing yards and tallied 24 rushing touchdowns. Senior Mikael Cooper-Falls led all players with 604 yards, while Heaston overcame an early-season injury to finish with just under 400 yards in seven games and a team-best 5.6 yards per carry. Young backs Phoenix Johnson and Cedric Miller also contributed a season ago, combining for over 100 carries in the MSU backfield.
Prior to returning to Missouri State and the college football ranks in 2010, Davis put together a record-setting senior season in 2007 for MSU as a player. He started two seasons for Terry Allen and set Missouri State's single-season records for most touchdowns (19) and points (114) during his senior campaign.
He guided the Bears to a 6-5 finish in 2007 and was named honorable mention All-MVFC after earning the team's Most Valuable Player Award. He rushed for a team-best 830 yards on 156 carries in his final season.
The St. Louis, Mo., native and Pattonville High School product was a four-year letterman for the Bears from 2004-07. He notched a school record five rushing touchdowns against Indiana State on Oct. 27, 2007 and claimed Coors Player of the Year honors as a senior co-captain. He also had two 100-yard rushing games as a senior, including a career-high 123-yard effort against Illinois State on Oct. 6, 2007.
Davis currently resides in Springfield and is also active in working with community youth.