University of South Carolina and Michigan University prepare for a rematch of their 2012 Outback Bowl battle, it seems like an obvious time to rerun the article that recognized student photographer Jeffrey Davis and his iconic shot.
Right Place, Right Time
–Jane Pigg, The Link
Right place, right time. That’s where The Link photographer Jeffrey Davis was when Jadeveon Clowney made “the hit heard ‘round the sports world” in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.
“That’s absolutely the best action shot I’ve ever seen,” said The Link Editor-in-Chief Leighton Bell. “I didn’t know what to expect when Jeffrey, a freshman in high school at the time, expressed an interest in taking photos for the newspaper. But I quickly saw what a knack he had for being in the right place at the right time to get a good photo, and also what a natural he was at having an eye for photography.”
The Link, a Tuesday publication with 10,437 paid circulation, is Chesterfield County’s newspaper and covers varsity sports for four high schools. Bell added, “Former USC quarterback Steve Taneyhill was in his fourth season as head coach of the Chesterfield Rams and I needed a photographer. After seeing his preseason shots, I knew he could shoot any game. His pictures were amazing. He captured the emotions as Coach Taneyhill guided the Rams to their third consecutive 1-A State Championship title.”
Davis continued to shoot the Rams games and other events around his school schedule. He captured the action on the field as well as Taneyhill’s emotions on the sidelines through the lens of his modest Canon Rebel XS. He has upgraded to a Canon EOS 7D.
In 2010, Jeff Gardner wrote a book, “The Making of a Dynasty,” about Steve Taneyhill and the Chesterfield Rams. He used Davis’ pictures throughout the book.
When The Link’s Rams sportswriter moved prior to the 2010 season, Davis volunteered to write the game stories. Bell said, “His first article stunned me. Jeffrey could write as well as a seasoned sports reporter.”
He began shooting USC football games in 2010. Bell added,” Former Cheraw Brave Cliff Matthews was one of the star Gamecock players and we needed to cover him. Jeffrey welcomed the assignment and took some incredible pictures. During the bowl games, he took pictures of players from neighboring towns for their local newspapers. Jeffrey’s a knowledge seeker by nature, so he quickly taught himself all the ins and outs of his equipment, which I then had him show to me and other members of our photography staff.”
Davis graduated Valedictorian of his senior class in 2012 and enrolled in the Honors College at USC, majoring in Mechanical engineering. He finished his first semester with a 3.914 GPA.
On December 28, he and The Link’s sportswriter left for Tampa to cover the Outback bowl.
When asked to describe the moments before and after the shot, Davis said, “We had stopped Michigan on fourth down. It was our ball. Then the fans’ joyous roars turned to a deep sea of boos. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but our defense was still on the field. I looked up, confused, and saw Clowney shift on the snap. That’s when I pulled up my camera and laid down on the shutter. After witnessing Hurricane Jadeveon from 20 yards away, I let the hit sink in and checked my shots. At the time, I knew it was an iconic hit, but I wasn’t expecting the frames I got. I told my followers on Twitter in the ensuing seconds, ‘Got that hit just wait #MrClowney.’”
The Link shared it on the South Carolina Press Association’s news site and it became an overnight sensation. Davis sent it to USC’s student newspaper, The Daily Gamecock, and they requested permission to publish it. They immediately offered him a job! He is currently on staff of The Daily Gamecock and shoots Gamecock Athletics regularly.
Davis added, “It was nice going back to school to have your photo printed full-page on the first issue of the school newspaper. That’s the best photo I have ever taken. I really like it when people ask me, ‘That was your picture?’”