Athlon Sports, America's Premier Sports Annuals, has named its 2003 Preseason All-America teams. Southern Miss senior linebacker Rod Davis was named to its first team, and senior defensive back Etric Pruitt was named to its third team.
The Golden Eagles were picked to win Conference USA, ranked No. 37 nationally and the linebackers were picked as eighth best in the nation. The linebackers and defensive backs were picked as the best positions in Conference USA. Senior defensive end Terrell Paul, linebackers Davis and junior Michael Boley, defensive back Pruitt and punt returner Marvin Young were named to its All-Conference USA Team.
In 2003, Davis has been named to the Playboy Preseason All-America team, joining Ray Guy (1972) as the only Southern Miss players ever to receive this award. He was also named to The Sporting News, CollegeFootballNews.com and NationalChamps.net first-team All-American lists.
One of only two returning AP All-American linebackers, Davis averaged 12.9 tackles a game, 0.81 sacks a game and 1.8 tackles for loss per game. He also registered two interceptions, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He led Conference USA in tackles, solo tackles and sacks and was second in tackles for loss.
Pruitt was named as a 2002 second-team All-American by CNNSI.com and CollegeFootballNews.com and earned Fourth Team All-American honors from The Sporting News. A first team all-Conference USA selection, he was a 2002 Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist.
He started all 13 games last season, finishing third on the Southern Miss defense in tackles with 139 (10.7 average). Pruitt collected six interceptions (tying a C-USA record with three vs. Army), and added 13 pass breakups, 1.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three blocked punts.