The story of Devron Davis is one you have heard before.
It begins and ends with football. Not that his story is over yet, far from it actually.
As he eagerly awaits the rapidly approaching 2018 NFL Draft, we reflect on what separates him from the rest of his draft class - his journey. While his statistics and game film speak for themselves, what makes Davis unique is his genetic makeup – yes, his DNA, particularly how it pertains to the game of football and the League itself.
“I have two cornerback cousins and one tight end cousin in the league who have been there, done that and seen it from the top to the bottom and I think that high-level football is just part of my genetic makeup, my build,” said Davis in an interview with The Sports Fan Journal. “I get better in the big games, I’m ready for the big stage.”
You read that correctly, three cousins, all on NFL rosters, two playing the very same position as Davis. On his mother’s side, there is Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson. And on his father’s side, Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis and his brother, Buffalo Bills cornerback Vontae Davis. Wild right?
Davis has been watching his family achieve great things on the football field from a young age, taking notes on their success and learning with them from their missteps. And now he is ready to step out into the sun.
“When I get to the NFL, obviously I want to make a name for myself as Devron, not just Vernon’s cousin, or Vontae’s cousin or Steven Nelson’s cousin,” said Davis. “I just want to get out there and make my own path and show them why I’m the best cousin of them all. I’m the 2.0 version.”
When asked about Devron’s potential, his cousins agreed.
“I have watched Devron grow like a butterfly – the maturity and professionalism from this kid is bar none,” said Vernon Davis, who was drafted sixth overall by San Francisco in 2006. “In my opinion, he might be the best football player in this family. Maybe. I don’t think I’m too bad myself. “
Vontae, a late first round pick by Miami in 2009, echoed his brother’s sentiment.
“Devron is going to be a great player in this league,” proclaimed Vontae. “I played corner at a high level for a long time as a Pro Bowler and made a lot of plays and have been around the game for a while – and I think he has the highest potential of us all.”
Davis’s path to the draft has been littered with challenges. He moved around a lot when he was young, attending many different schools as a child. He decided to go the junior college route out of high school and ended up at Merced College, which he chose for its proximity to home and his mother. He led the team in interceptions both years and ended up getting offers from 40 schools, eventually signing with Colorado State. But after his mother fell ill, he was let out of his national letter of intent.
During his recruiting out of JUCO, Devron became close with LSU coach Frank Wilson and when Wilson left for the head-coaching job at UTSA, Davis followed out of loyalty. He relished the chance to turn another program into a defensive powerhouse.
That’s the thing about Devron; he tends to leave places better than he finds them.
“Things got tough for us sometimes but that’s what made me the kind of football player I am,” explained Davis. “I was put in adverse situations but my strength is that I always make the best of them. Whether it was junior college to high school to Division 1, no matter what situation I was put in, I made the best of it. And I always like to be a spark plug for a team – everywhere I go, I like to leave a mark.”
As a senior at UTSA, Davis started all 11 games for a defense that led Conference USA in seven different statistical categories and ranked in the top-10 in the FBS in five. He was a key member of a secondary that helped UTSA lead the conference and ranked second nationally in passing yards allowed per game (160.1 avg). He recorded 25 tackles (18 solo, seven assisted), six pass breakups, four tackles for a loss and one forced fumble.
Not only is Davis athletic – he moves like a kid using a handheld game console – but he also boasts strong mental awareness and ball skills as well as extremely physical play and the ability to execute open field tackles.
“I think growing up how I grew up and just around the people in the city I’m from kind of made me that hard-nosed player,” said Davis. “And I love being physical – you know I watch John Lynch and Steve Atwater and Brian Dawkins and Troy Polamalu, guys like that come down field full speed ready to wreak havoc.
And that’s the kind of player I am – a downhill player, I’m physical, fast and I have ball skills to match. You have to have the complete package and I think physicality is one but the ball skills and the awareness and the stickiness in man coverage – those are all the skills I possess and have shown on film multiple times.”
One of Davis’s other major strengths is confidence.
“It’s a very key component, especially playing as a cornerback,” said Steven Nelson, Kansas City's third round pick in 2015. “In the NFL, if you don’t have confidence playing cornerback, you are going to be sent home. I feel like that is a major plus for him to have that confidence and it’s important for him to keep it up as he comes into the league because it’s a battle every day.”
Vontae Davis had another name for it.
“He’s a confident kid with swagger - and that you can’t teach,” said Vontae. “He’s a team fit, not a scheme fit.”
Davis definitely has swagger, which coupled with his competitive nature is something NFL teams will for sure want in training camp. Davis also prides himself on being whatever he needs to be to help his team win.
“I want to win anywhere on the field and I want my teammates to win anywhere on the field,” said Davis. “If that means a big hit, an interception or anything to get the defense going and get them to that point… even a strip fumble, I’m going to go do it. Or whether it’s communicating, making them feel more comfortable about the call. Any little thing I can help as a corner on the field as the general, I will do it.”
Vernon Davis admires that chameleon aspect about his cousin.
“I believe he’s a team fit anywhere,” said Vernon. “He’s athletic enough to play man and good enough to play zone so he’s the ultimate team fit.”Hard Work. Dedication. (Source: San Antonio Express-News)
Family is the driving force behind Davis’s football dreams – they are the encouragement, the praise and the advice that brings him ever closer to his goal. He carries a lot more than his team with him every time he steps out onto the field.
“The thought of playing at the next level means a great deal to my mom,” shared Davis. “She’s really proud of me. She has seen me go through the struggles, the struggles that we went through and accomplish my goals. We just kept pushing and grinding together. Everything I do is for her, to make her proud. That’s why I take this game so seriously.”
There will be a lot of people standing beside Davis on Draft Day, either in flesh or in spirit. But when the call finally comes, it all boils down to one simple truth: passion
“At the end of the day, all of this, it’s also for me – I love the game of football,” expressed Davis.
Family and football, that’s just what Devron Davis does.
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