Blue-Chip Recruit Kenondra Davis Picks USC

The University of Southern California women's track and field program has landed another blue-chip recruit in Fort Worth Trimble Tech's (TX) Kenondra Davis.

By signing her National Letter of Intent this weekend, Davis joins a 2021 Trojans' recruiting class that includes DeSoto's Jalaysiya Smith, Creekside's Makhaila Mills and St. Francis Mountain View's Isabelle Cairns.

In recent years, the Trojans have racked up blue-chip sprint, hurdle and jump talents such as Jasmine Jones, Kimberly Harris, Jazmyne Frost Markalah Hart, Jan'Taijah Ford, Morgan Smalls and Jatana Folston. 

For Davis, MileSplit's No. 14 recruit in the Class in 2021, her relationship with Caryl Smith, USC's Director of Track and Field, allowed the Trojans to rise above other interested programs. She's part of a USC class that has signed three top 50 recruits thus far -- Smith is No. 15 and Mills is No. 29. 

"From the start, Coach Caryl created a great bond with me, I can say better than any coach," she said. "It wasn't always her calling to see where I'm at in the recruiting process and stuff like that. She called to ask how I was doing, and I felt like she really did care about me more than just my abilities on the track."

As an eighth-grader, Davis was completely unaware of her potential in the sport. It wasn't until she won her first Texas UIL Class 6A 100 meter state title as a freshman that she realized track and field was going to take her to another level.

"I was overwhelmed every time I started learning people's names and I was beating these people -- I was surprised," she said. "It started to hit me: I love this, this is what I like to do, I can actually be great in it and that's when I told myself I could be great. That's when I started turning up on a whole other level."

In 2019, Davis took second place in the 100m at Brooks PR -- a statement-making race -- with a wind-legal time of 11.36 seconds for a new best and a top 10 national time.

Earlier that season, she ran 23.38 in the 200m, which ranked US No. 18. Each effort landed her within Texas' top 15 all-time marks, respectively. 

But while joining a national championship-caliber team is every athlete's goal, it also comes with plenty of pressures.

Over the last five years, USC has quickly produced a dominant sprints program with recent national champions in TeeTee Terry, Angie Annelus and its 4x100m relay. With the upcoming graduation of Terry and Annelus, there will be big shoes to fill.

But that doesn't intimidate Davis.

"I feel like I'm going to get there and fit right in honestly," she told MileSplit. "I didn't choose that school for anything to be easy. I wanted a challenge ... I'm very excited. I know it's not going to be easy for me to do something that hasn't happened. But with my talent I feel like I can do a little bit more than what's already happened."

The Texas state champion chose USC over other powerhouse programs Florida, LSU, Oregon, Texas and Texas A&M.

Preliminarily, Davis was considering more in-state options. But to grow on her own, she later said, she knew she had to leave Texas.

"I feel like staying here was too easy for me, it's going to be too easy because I have so many people looking out for me," she explained. "I know if I bump into a little issue, not even something major, I wouldn't be able to figure it out by myself. I want to figure out life by myself."

Overall, the recruiting process was able to show Davis that there was more available to her than she initially thought, which caused her to pick a place that wasn't initially her "dream school."

Turning down programs was the hardest part of the process. The sprinter said once she realized she wasn't letting other coaches down and that it was all a business, she felt comfortable knowing her scholarship could go to someone else.

However, her decision wasn't the most unexpected thing she encountered during the process.

"A program told me that if I didn't choose their school, I'd be regretting my decision," Davis said. "I think that was the most unexpected thing and it made me think, woo this recruiting process is crazy."

These words, while shocking, didn't shake Davis' decision to be a Trojan.

Once she decided within herself, she said, there was no going back, no regrets and her love for USC wouldn't be overshadowed by attempts to make her feel uncertain.

In her final campaign, Davis is anticipating a competitive schedule and potential record-breaking results. She said she's going after the Texas state 100m (11.16) and 200m (22.84) records, both of which were set over a decade ago.