NFL

Corey Davis Quietly Suffered Along His Road to the NFL

It’s his fourth season in the NFL and Corey Davis is seemingly making his mark with the Tennessee Titans. For three years, Davis failed to live up to the hype of being a top-five pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Davis knows a lot about struggling. Before he was a college football star, he had to make one very important decision on his own.

Corey Davis’ football career

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When Corey Davis was a wide receiver at Western Michigan, he was considered one of the top players in the country. At 6-foot-3, 209 pounds, Davis was a mixture of speed and strength that made it difficult for college defensive backs to defend. In four seasons at Western Michigan, Davis finished with 52 touchdowns and racked up 5,278 receiving yards.

Davis had an outstanding senior year in 2016 with 97 catches for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns. Davis was a first-round pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2017 NFL draft. The Titans selected him with the fifth overall pick.

Davis struggled in his rookie season, battling through a hamstring injury. He bounced back in 2018 with 65 catches for 891 yards and four touchdowns. His numbers dropped in 2019 with 43 catches for 601 yards and two scores. This year, despite missing two games for being on the reserve/COVID-19 list, he has 29 catches for 369 yards and three touchdowns in six games.

Corey Davis didn’t have the best home life

Ever since his youth football days, Corey Davis was a very talented athlete. “The first day I met Corey was the first day of practice,” said Dan Graham, Davis’ youth football coach. “He was a great kid, first and foremost. Just a pleasure to be around. His athletic skills are kind of undeniable.”

While he was playing youth football, Davis was living in affordable housing with his six siblings. Money was tough for the family. With no family car, Davis often walked three miles to practice. “It was a lot harder than it should’ve been,” Davis said in a CBS Sports video. “My parents were there, but they weren’t really there. They did what they could, but it was never really enough. Me and my brothers felt it was just us and we had to do what we can to live.”

That’s when Graham and his family stepped in. “We became aware that sometimes Corey maybe didn’t have enough to eat or had some needs with clothing, things like that,” Graham said. “Corey would get rides with us and come home to our house quite a bit. I had a good relationship with Corey’s parents and just always tried to help out when we could.”

Davis had to make a difficult decision

Ryan Graham, Dan’s son, became very good friends with Corey Davis. Ryan Graham said Davis never let him know what was going on in his home life. “A lot of the times, he didn’t let me know what was going on,” Ryan Graham said. Davis said that was by design. He wanted to remain quiet about his home life.

“No one really knew,” Davis said. “I was always a pretty quiet kid. Me and my brothers and sisters. We went through a lot of different things than other kids and we would rather just keep things to ourselves. It was just easier that way.” Davis thrived athletically in high school, but his academics suffered with all that was going on at home. He knew something had to change.

“I moved out my junior year and moved in with the Grahams,” Davis said. “It was very difficult to see my mom and dad and their reaction. They were pretty hurt, to be honest. They knew it was for the best. I had to make a decision to better my life.” His decision paid off and he found a college coach willing to take a chance on him. “I saw somebody who needed a chance,” said then-Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck, now the coach at Minnesota. “Somebody who needed someone to help him, needed someone to take a shot on him. That last semester he knocked it out of the park, got eligible and the rest is history.”

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.