Newly-acquired receiver Corey Davis won’t be the first member of his family to wear a New York Jets uniform.
One Jets Drive is about a 13-hour drive from Wheaton Warrenville South High School, known to the locals as “South.” But both locales play major roles in the Illinois-based Davis family.
The New York Jets practice facility in Florham Park, NJ previously hosted the professional endeavors of the late Titus Davis, whose younger brother Corey has reportedly inked a three-year, $37.5 million contract with the green metropolitan squad. Corey Davis is coming off a career-best season with the Tennessee Titans, tallying 984 receiving yards and five scores.
Tragically, Titus passed away in November from a rare form of kidney cancer known as renal medullary carcinoma. Though the Davis brothers didn’t live together during their high school days, each opting to live with the family of a teammate, the two held a close bond only strengthened by the gridiron.
“Since I was a little kid I was always chasing after him and trying to be like him. I wore his number every year to copy him,” Corey Davis said to Paul Skrbina of the Nashville Tennessean after partaking in a game shortly after Titus’ passing. “He thought it was annoying but I looked up to him tremendously.”
This reported deal is the latest step of the football journey that began at South, to the tune of a 14-0 record and a state championship in 2010. Provided an arrangement is made with tight end Ryan Griffin, Corey will continue to wear Titus’ traditional No. 84 on his new Jets uniform.
The brothers would later make a lasting impact at directional Michigan schools in the Mid-American Conference. Titus would break receiving records previously held by Antonio Brown for the Central Michigan Chippewas.
He even won an ESPY for his role in CMU’s thrilling score at the 2014 Bahamas Bowl, when he took the last of three laterals to the end zone on an improbable Hail Mary as time expired.
Meanwhile, Corey rewrote not only the Western Michigan Broncos’ receiving record book, but that of the Football Bowl Subdivision entirely, as he remains the all-time leader in receiving yards.
Despite his accolades, Titus went drafted in 2015 but spent the ensuing year on the practice squads of several teams, including two separate stints with the Jets. New York inked him to a reserve/future deal at the end of the season, but he left the team prior to their first preseason game.
Titus briefly ended his retirement in 2017, spending the summer with the Chicago Bears after impressing during rookie minicamp. He was inspired to return to the gridiron by Corey’s senior year endeavors at WMU. En route to a perfect regular season, Corey earned the MAC Offensive Player of the Year and the Paul Warfield Awards (the latter bestowed to the top collegiate receiver in the nation). The Broncos became a ranked team for the first time and were rewarded with an invite to the Cotton Bowl.
“Watching my brother kind of brought back that spark,” Titus told Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times that summer. “Throughout his senior season, I was able to catch most of his games. Just seeing him play with passion and seeing him have fun, kind of sparked that back in me.”
WMU’s victorious endeavors cast a wider spotlight on Corey’s NFL journey. The Titans would take him with the fifth overall pick of the 2017 draft. He brings not only a strong year upon which to build but also postseason experience the New York roster sorely lacks. His career-best numbers were in fact achieved despite missing two games due to inclusion on the COVID-19 list.
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A day after Titus’ passing, Corey knew the perfect way to honor him was to partake in the game they each adored. He would up earning a team-best 65 yards as the Titans partook in a nationally televised showdown with the Colts.
“That was my idol, my hero,” Davis said that night, per Titans reporter Jim Wyatt. “He just kept telling me to play, telling me to play throughout the whole process. That’s my biggest fan.
“It was heavy on my mind, every play. But I just kept thinking this is what he wanted me to do. He wouldn’t want me to be sad and sulk and feel sorry for myself. I obviously miss him and wish he was here, but I know he’s in a better place and that he was with me today.”
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags