Boogie Davis helps Vikings post bounce-back season
PORTLAND — At Portland State, there have been times this year when the Vikings get up and get Boogie.
Former Scappoose High football player Boogie Davis has seen his first action in a Vikings uniform, playing as a redshirt freshman for the Vikings.
Davis, who finished his prep career as a senior at Westview, says he's enjoyed his time so far at PSU and in the program.
He's a backup defensive end/linebacker who is seeing duty on special teams, after redshirting as a freshman in 2017. He alertly fell on a kickoff as an up man during a recent 48-45 loss to Idaho State at Hillsboro Stadium.
Davis lives on campus, a short walk to the Stott Community Field where the team practices and to the new Viking Pavilion, which includes a new, large weight room for PSU athletes.
"I live with (senior defensive end) Larry Ross, some offensive linemen and our starting quarterback (sophomore Davis Alexander from Gig Harbor, Washington)," Davis says. "It's a great group, a bunch of dudes who love each other and respect each other and hang out off the field. And I like being downtown."
The personal connection with teammates and coaches is what led Davis to Portland State and keeps him there.
"Portland State was my only offer, and I loved the coaching staff," he says. "The staff really sold me. I thought about trying other avenues but decided to come here. It's close to home, and (head) Coach (Bruce) Barnum said 'we want you and we love you and we want you here.'"
Davis says he arrived at college weighing about 251 pounds. He'd played up front on offense and defense for Scappoose, but is focused now on defense.
"I prefer that side of the ball and how we scheme up every week," he says. "Defense is more reaction-based. You just make plays."
The Vikings have used him at different spots, defensively. "Depends on where we are week to week and where I am — I can be 260 or I can be 248," he says.
In coming years, who knows where he might line up?
"I have no idea. I can do really anything they ask of me on the field and go 100 percent," he says. "That's kind of me — balls of wall."
Could he beef up and move even more into the defensive line, possibly even as a tackle in the interior?
"We'll see. I don't know," he says. "I've only had one offseason here, we've got to see where the next one takes me. If you could make 280 (pounds) look good, why not?"
Davis used his redshirt year to learn and observe from the likes of teammates such as Ross and former standout defensive end Davond Dade.
This year, the PSU defense has a bunch of newcomers, including some college transfers, and a new scheme under a new defensive coordinator, Payam Saadat, but Davis says the closeness has remained or even grown deeper.
"The defensive group as a whole is pretty close," he says. "We hang out outside of football frequently. We pride ourselves on doing that. I'm very fortunate to be on such a very close unit."
On the field, the Vikings have turned things around, especially on defense. In 2015, Portland State went 9-2 to earn a spot in the FCS national playoffs. Tragedy and other problems struck, though, and the Vikings dipped to 3-8 in 2016. The funk continued into 2017, with Portland State going 0-11.
This year, the Vikings have climbed out of the mire. They took their lumps, as expected, playing necessary money games at Nevada and Oregon to start the season. And they dropped their first two Big Sky games. But they won at Montana for the first time ever in conference play, then downed Northern Colorado and Sacramento State. They are 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the Big Sky going into the season finale, 7 p.m. Friday at Hillsboro Stadium against No. 3-ranked rival Eastern Washington.
The defense has turned in several solid performances and helped put PSU into positive numbers in turnover ratio, a very important stat.
"I think we're starting to connect with the scheme and with what Coach Saadat wants us to be focused on and execute," Davis says. "It's a new defense and something we'd never realy seen before. I think we're getting the hang of things."
Davis grew up in St. Helens and played youth sports, but wound up going to Scappoose High.
"I just thought Scappoose would be a better high school, and I loved the coaches there, loved the team morale," he says.
He says he switched to Westview, a much bigger school in Beaverton (enrollment of about 2,600) because "I moved in with my aunt and uncle, and that's where they lived. And I wanted to try a little bit different experience.
"I loved the culture there. Honestly, I had a pretty good four years of high school."
He's studying business at Portland State, with an interest in supply chain logistics.
And, he's still Boogie, instead of given name Zarykk.
"All my life I've been Boogie," he says. "My grandfather gave me that nickname before I was born, and everybody rolled with it — teachers, progressors, family members and friends."
The same is true at Portland State, where they can Jungle Boogie with their up-and-coming defender.
Boogie Davis, if nothing else, is a good salesman for the program.
"Here at Portland State, you're going to come to a place where they love you," he says. "We've got new facilities. We practice in the morning, so you get your day started off right with some football. And you've got coaches who really care about you, who want to see you do well and perform great, and who put you in the best spot to do so."