Broncos’ Corey Davis turning trials into triumph
Explosive, loud and and extraordinary athletic ability are all words that could be used to describe Western Michigan University wide receiver Corey Davis on the football field. Off the field, Davis is much different. He still has the same infectious smile, but Davis is a shy, quiet man of little words. Behind his wall of modesty is a story of triumph and great resilience. Born on the southside of Chicago, Davis’s parents moved him, his four brothers and two sisters to the suburbs of Wheaton, Illinois in the second grade. Although both parents were in the home, Davis and his siblings were left on their own most of the time.
Growing up, Davis and his older brother Titus were always close. In fact, it was Titus who unknowingly influenced him to start playing football. Titus excelled at football, and Davis was always at his brother’s games. “After watching my brother play for two years, I decided in third grade that I wanted some of the attention,” Davis said. Davis was so good at football that in pickup games, he and Titus were never allowed to be on the same team. As a duo, other players claimed it was not fair, but that was fine with the brothers because they loved competing against each other. Davis continued to improve in high school at Wheaton-Warrenville South, where he played varsity football during his sophomore year. In the meantime, Titus accepted a scholarship to play football at Central Michigan University. Once again, Davis found himself in his brother’s shadow.
During his junior year, Davis saw that in order to play college football, he would need to make changes in his life. He realized he needed more support and discipline at home. “If I was not playing football I probably would not be in school,” Davis said. “I skipped school a lot.” After talking it over with his parents, he moved into Daniel and Robin Graham’s home. Daniel was a former coach of Davis during his days of playing youth football alongside their son Ryan, who is now a quarterback at Northern Illinois University.
In his senior season, Davis improved both on the football field and in the classroom, but schools didn’t heavily recruit him because of his earlier academic troubles. “My grades and stuff were all messed up. I didn’t even qualify until a month after signing day,” Davis said. “My brother taught me to stay humble, give thanks to God and really believe in myself.” Not only did Davis believe in himself, so did newly hired WMU head football coach P.J. Fleck. Aware of the Davis’s qualification troubles and the risk that came with it, Fleck showed interest in Davis and was the only coach to offer him a scholarship.
Davis accepted the scholarship and began his career as a Bronco in 2013. Fleck’s risk yielded high reward. During Davis’s freshman season, he had 67 receptions for 941 yards and six touchdowns with five games of at least 100 yards receiving. Davis was also named Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year, an accolade Davis said came as a big surprise and blessing. Even after a successful first season, Fleck reminded Davis to stay humble while continuing to believe in himself. “(Fleck) is tough but he teaches me life lessons, and really cares about his players,” Davis said. “My confidence has improved and I feel a lot more comfortable.”
Davis showed growth on the field his sophomore season, finishing with 78 receptions for 1,408 yards and 15 touchdowns, but it was his continued growth off the field that is the most impressive to Bronco wide receiver coach Matt Simon. “Corey is what we call a program guy,” Simon said. “He is starting to become an ambassador for doing the right things and being another coach in terms of preaching the program to the younger guys, not just telling them what to do but being able to show and explain it.” Davis improved again during his junior season in 2015, finishing with 90 receptions for 1,436 yards and 12 touchdowns, including eight receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown in the Broncos first ever bowl victory over Middle Tennessee State University.
Prior to the game, it was announced that Davis would not enter the NFL Draft and would return to WMU for his senior season, a decision that was partly impacted by his grandparents. “They keep me level headed,” Davis said. “I’m indebted to them. They did a lot for me.” Davis plans to graduate next spring with a degree in sports management. Following graduation, he dreams to play in the NFL like Titus, who signed with the New York Jets. Seeing his brother live out his dream makes him always want to take the extra step, Davis said. Another dream for Davis includes opening up a training facility with his brother, focusing on giving high school students a way to succeed. “I always wanted to help others become better athletes and fulfill their dreams,” Davis said.
Paying it forward by giving back to those in need is critical to Davis because of all the help and support he’s had along the way. The journey to WMU was not easy for him, and Davis is appreciative of the position he is in today.
Posted: Monday, February 22, 2016 2:00 pm | Updated: 2:01 pm, Mon Feb 22, 2016. By: