After a disappointing end to his best season in college, linebacker Jarrad Davis had to do his due diligence.

Despite strongly committing to return for his senior season after the Southeastern Conference Championship Game in December and reaffirming that commitment a week later, the linebacker felt obligated to see where he stood in relation to the NFL Draft.

Had Davis seen himself ranked as a first round prospect or "something totally unexpected," he said, he might have decided to make the jump to the next level.

But he insisted that deep down, his feelings on leaving school early never changed.

"I don’t really think I was that close," Davis said. "I knew what I wanted to do after the SEC Championship Game.

"Of course, I had to look and see what it looked like. But at the same time, just that bad taste that was in my mouth, I can’t walk away from that."

Two months since Florida’s 41-7 pelting from Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, Davis got his first chance to get rid of that bad taste, participating in UF’s first Spring practice of the year.

"It feels awesome," Davis said. "Coming back out here to put the helmet on, getting to run around and throw around the rock a little while is what we all needed. You almost have withdrawals sitting around and working out all winter."

But although he and his teammates have returned to a familiar setting, there was still something unfamiliar for Davis about taking the field without the likes of Jon Bullard, Antonio Morrison, Keanu Neal and Vernon Hargreaves III.

"I’m not going to lie," Davis said. "It was kind of weird not seeing those guys around me."

Those four are busy preparing for the NFL Draft and their pro day on March 22, with some of them putting their first-round projections on the line.

Davis could easily be participating in pro day instead of working out with a bunch of early enrollees and a group largely made up of young, unproven talent.

But the senior believes he can still improve on his 2015 season, a year that saw him rank second on the team with 98 tackles as well as 3.5 sacks and an interception.

"I just need to make sure that I show that I’m a consistent player and I’m somebody that’s going to go out and take over every play, take over every snap and not wait for anybody else on the field to make a play."

More than that, though, Davis feels like he has unfinished business in college, and last year was just scratching the surface.

"I know that I came back to do something special and leave my mark," Davis said.

Contact Graham Hack at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @graham_hack24

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