CLEVELAND — Before Saturday's preseason against the Jacksonville Jaguars, fans might not have known the name Davion Davis. Signed with the Browns on July 31, Davis had participated in Cleveland's mandatory minicamp the month before as a tryout player but not much was known about him otherwise.
After wide receiver Derrick Willies retired, the Browns had a roster spot to fill. Davis made enough of an impression on the team to land him that roster spot.
In a receiver room full of stars like Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham and the rising Donovan Peoples-Jones, it would be easy for a new guy coming off a season spent on the Vikings practice squad to get lost in the shuffle.
But Davis has used this chance to shine, making a name for himself Saturday night with a stunning touchdown reception—a reception that he dedicated to his grandmother Bernice Dunn.
“It was crazy. That was my first NFL touchdown, so I didn't know how to celebrate. I just gave my grandma thanks and celebrated with the team," Davis said. "A dream come true honestly.”
That dream was one he shared with his grandmother, who passed away in September 2011.
"She was the driving force behind me for football and she's the reason why I'm here today," Davis said. "I promised her that I'd make it here and do everything I can to keep this dream alive."
Davis meant it when he said his grandma was the reason he was in the NFL today—because she spoke it into existence from the moment Davis entered the world.
"When I was born she told my mom, 'This is going to be the football player of our family,'" Davis said. "And it turned out to be true."
Davis began his journey in the NFL after being signed by the Minnessota Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of Sam Houston State in 2019. After spending most of the season on the Vikings' practice squad, Davis made his NFL debut in October of that year, playing two NFL games before heading back to the practice squad.
After being waived from the Vikings in August 2020, Davis' dreams were put on pause, but his work wasn't.
Davis dedicated himself to staying ready for any opportunity that came his way, studying the Browns playbook when he got his chance to tryout, making sure to leave a lasting impression and continuing to chase the dreams he and his grandma shared.
"I learned the playbook so I could get myself ready for any opportunity that I was able to get during the game. Just staying well prepared," Davis said.
And on Sunday, on a deep pass from quarterback Kyle Lauletta against the Jaguars, opportunity came knocking for Davis.
The wide receiver leaped in the air and came down with the ball in the end zone for his first NFL touchdown. And the first thing Davis did was celebrate with his grandma.
"After any play I always give her thanks. I blow a kiss to her in the sky," Davis said.
The moment was pure and hard-fought for, and the images, now that the story behind them are known, are extra special—especially for Davis' family.
"I actually showed my mom a picture of it and she started balling on the phone crying," Davis said.
With a tight competition in the Browns wide receiving room, Davis' future with Cleveland is far from certain. But regardless of where he ends up by the end of this year's training camp, Davis remains grateful of each moment he has in the league, thanking those who helped get him to where he is today.
"I'm blessed, I give thanks to my grandma, my mom, everybody behind me that always pushed me each and every day," Davis said.
And even though his grandma can't be with Davis physically, he carried her with him everywhere he goes, represented both in the tattoos he wears on his arm and in his heart as he continues chasing his NFL dreams.
"I've stayed true, I've stayed driven on my goal and my dream, for my grandma, and I'm blessed to have the opportunity to be here," Davis said.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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