NCAA sidelines Fridley student-athlete's football dreams over online pandemic class

A local student-athlete is fighting for his football dreams after the NCAA sidelined him over an online English class he took during the height of the pandemic.

Fridley High School graduate Terrell Davis tells FOX 9, it is not fair to be punished for a misunderstanding over his high school transcript, three years later. He hopes to get back on the gridiron in time for summer workouts.

"I am kind of frustrated. I am kind of sad," Davis said. "But at the end of the day, you got to keep your head up high. You got to motivate yourself. And the grind does not stop. I continue to get 1% better every day."

Davis’ dreams of playing Division One football were about to come true as a wide receiver for the University of New Mexico Lobos until the recent developments.

"I really, really want it bad. I just hope everything gets cleared because I just really want to touch the field with the guys," said Davis. "It would feel really, really nice for me to go out there with the ‘Bos and hopefully go to a bowl game and win a championship. That is the goal."

Davis graduated from Fridley High School with the class of 2021. He kept trying out for the UNM football team, finally making it with a roster invitation this spring when a new head coach was hired. It was his third attempt to play as what’s known as a "walk-on."

"I tried every year. I tried out every single year, and this is the year I actually made it. And when I made it, the coaches loved me."

Davis appeared to be thriving during the offseason with his acrobatic pass-catching highlighted on the Lobos’ public Instagram account. But in recent days, Davis has been sidelined with an academic eligibility issue involving his high school transcript and the NCAA.

"It was literally one class, literally one class. It was ling and lit (linguistics and literature) A and B," explained Davis.

The way Davis and his family tell it, the college sports governing body flagged the online English class he took during the height of the pandemic. With his grandmother battling cancer, Davis elected for online learning to avoid contact with others. So, he was stunned when academic compliance officers on the Albuquerque campus told him he would be ineligible to play for the Lobos this fall unless they could sort out the issue.

"I am kind of frustrated, I am kind of sad," he said. "But at the end of the day, you got to keep your head up high."

Adding to his frustrations, Davis reports that he is carrying at least a 3.0 grade point average as a condition of an academic scholarship he has received from the University of New Mexico, where he is majoring in business finance and carrying an economics minor. After two full years on campus, he argues his classroom success in college should be enough to satisfy any NCAA academic requirements.

A frantic effort with the high school, the university and the NCAA was underway this week as Davis desperately wants to be part of summer practices kicking off in June, so he can solidify his hold on a coveted roster spot and prepare for the season.

"When you get so close to something, like, it is just like, ‘wow,’ and then it gets taken away for something you cannot control. That is sad. It is not even about skill or anything. It is something you cannot control," Davis lamented.

FOX 9 spoke to an NCAA eligibility center official on Thursday. While she would not confirm specifics of why Davis’ high school transcript was flagged, she said the association is working with the university and Fridley High School to resolve the issue. A NCAA review of Davis’ file is currently underway with clarity on the young man’s football future expected sometime next week.