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Coastal Carolina player on the cutting edge
An hour and a half after an August scrimmage, Coastal Carolina defensive end Jamel Davis is back at his University Place apartment preparing for his other role with the Chanticleers.
It’s an unofficial position of sorts.
“The barbershop,” senior teammate Corey Hawkins says as he enters through the front door.
That’s what they call the apartment Davis shares with three of his Chanticleer teammates.
“He’s the best,” redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Kenny Fitzgerald says, sitting in the makeshift barber’s seat set up in the main entranceway. “He’s the only one that knows how to cut hair right.”
It’s the Sunday before classes start, and Davis’ services are in high demand on this night. Every few minutes or so, as he’s going to work on Fitzgerald’s hair, another person comes through the front door until there’s a handful of teammates and friends gathered in the apartment.
“This is the barbershop,” Hawkins reiterates. “There’s usually a line out the door. You’ve got to text Jamel three days in advance if you want a spot.”
It’s unclear if he’s joking, but Fitzgerald quickly chimes in while getting his haircut.
“Serious,” he says.
Davis, who is expected to be in the starting lineup Saturday night for the Chants as they host Furman in their season opener, used to cut his hair and his brother’s hair at home, but his burgeoning business was really born during his freshman year at Coastal when he lived with linebacker Andrae Jacobs – a willing participant whenever Davis wanted to practice his barber skills.
“I started cutting Andrae’s hair every chance I could. He’d let me do any type of designs in his head I wanted to,” Davis had said earlier, explaining his craft. “End of freshman year, I started telling a lot of the football guys I cut hair, and they started telling a lot of their friends or whatever.”
He’s asked if he’s ever had any unsatisfied customers.
“No, no, no. Of course not,” Davis said. “And if I mess up, I won’t tell them. I’ll just fix it.”
He has, indeed, developed a reputation. Now, he says, there are times when he has 12-15 people together at once. There’s even a Twitter account dedicated to “The Barbershop” that junior running back and roommate Jeremy Height helps run.
Whatever it takes to maintain an edge in the market.
“One freshman came into camp and said, ‘Hey, I cut hair,’” CCU football coach David Bennett recalled. “And Jamel stood up and said, ‘Don’t you be taking my business.’”
On the field, Davis enters his junior season slotted as a starting defensive end for the Chants after showing promise last year. Injuries limited him in 2010, but he made four starts and earned Big South Conference defensive player of the week honors after a win against Presbyterian.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Davis says he put on about 10-12 pounds over the offseason to bulk up a bit to hopefully remain a healthy and consistent contributor along the defensive front throughout the season.
“He’s an athlete. He’s a very blessed athlete. I don’t know, could he beat all you all in one-on-on in basketball?” Bennett said out on the practice field one day, turning to fellow defensive end Quinton Davis. “‘Q, Jamel Davis, he can beat everybody one-on-one in basketball, couldn’t he?’ Yep. He’s one of our best athletes.”
But interestingly, he’s not the only barber who will be suiting up along the defensive line for the Chants.
Senior defensive tackle Chad McField is in the hair-cutting game himself and has some clientele among the team. Knowing that Davis was charging $5 for a basic cut with an escalating price scale for more involved requests, McField offers his services for $3, but he acknowledges Davis is the preferred option among teammates.
“This past summer, we had a lot of our teammates coming to us for haircuts. A lot more people go to Jamel because he’s a little bit more experienced with it, he’s been doing it a little bit longer,” McField said. “But I’m not discouraged by that because I sometimes get my tips from Jamel.”
Back at Davis’ apartment – The Barbershop, that is – business is good, as usual. Music plays lightly in the background of conversation as four people have settled around the room while Davis finishes up with Fitzgerald. He’s expecting at least another customer – former CCU running back Eric O’Neal – to be coming by at some point as well.
The place was a popular gathering spot for Coastal players during the offseason to talk about football or any other topic. On this night, they talk briefly about the recently completed scrimmage and about the ankle injury sustained that day by junior defensive end Chris Thomas – one of Davis’ roommates – as he walks in.
“After practice, in the spring, it’s like a chill spot. It’s like a real barbershop,” Hawkins says. “He needs to get one of those comfortable chairs like at the real barbershop.”
Hawkins is setting the tone for the conversation, discussing entrepreneurial options of his own with the rest of the room as he waits to get his haircut.
“Don’t try talking business with Hawk – you’ll be here all night,” Fitzgerald says to a visitor.
Hawkins starts describing the business model of selling final expense insurance, of all things.
“I told you don’t start talking to him,” Fitzgerald says jokingly as the banter continues.
Davis takes his time giving Fitzgerald a precision haircut before calling Hawkins over to the chair.
Another night, another satisfied customer.
By Ryan Young, Myrtle Beach Sun News