Chris Maurice takes a look at the long, difficult journey of Chris Davis Jr, the man responsible for the Kick Six, as he moves through life to the NFL.
Nov 30, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers cornerback Chris Davis (11) scores a 100 yard touchdown on a missed field goal attempt during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan Hare Stadium. Auburn Tigers won 34-28. (Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)
For fans of the Auburn Tigers, Chris Davis Jr. is a household name. In fact, most football fans should recognize his name—after all, he made the most famous play in Auburn and Iron Bowl history by returning Alabama Crimson Tide placekicker Adam Griffith’s 57 yard game-winning field goal attempt 109 yards for the game-winning touchdown as time expired. It took Davis Jr. one second and 109 yards to earn his spot in football folk lore forever.
Sure, the Kick Six is the biggest of Davis Jr.’s accomplishments; however, it was clear that his time was coming. Davis Jr. has always been an opportunist, making the most of every little opportunity he has been given despite being greatly underrated along the way.
Life wasn’t easy for Davis Jr. growing up. His father was killed when he was only 2 years old, and he was raised by his mother and grandmother. However, where some people would give up after being dealt a hand like this, it only encouraged Davis Jr. to go further in life. Davis Jr. always removed himself from peer pressure and any other distractions from sports and his school work. “[My mother and grandmother] taught me a lot growing up,” said Davis Jr. “and right from wrong was one of the things they taught me.”
Davis Jr. made the most of his talents, and during his senior year at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Ala., Davis Jr. rushed for 877 yard on 6.5 yards per carry, had 185 receiving yards, 520 return yards and 23 tackles—the man could literally do it all. Although he showed potential from every position on the field, Davis Jr. was deemed a 3-star recruit coming out of high school. No problem.
Davis Jr. was recruited to play football for Auburn University, and he proved his critics wrong early in his collegiate career. Davis Jr. played in all 14 games for the Tigers in 2010 as Auburn won the 2011 BCS Championship. Davis Jr. went to work in 2011 earning MVP honors at the Chick-fil-A Bowl that year.
Then in 2013 Davis Jr. really made a name for himself. As a defensive starter for the Tigers, Davis Jr. helped lead the team to another BCS Championship appearance while earning first-team All-SEC and first-team All-American honors for his outstanding season at cornerback. Then, of course, there was the Kick Six. Davis Jr. had sure come a long way from the virtual unknown defensive back that used to beg the coaching staff for a chance to return punts. “He wanted to return punts. He made that very adamant with us,” said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, “so I’m glad our coaches gave him an opportunity.”
Davis Jr. declared for the 2014 NFL Draft after his final season at Auburn, and he was immediately projected as a late fourth or early fifth round draft choice. However, despite his defensive skills and his ability to make big plays in the return game, Davis Jr. went undrafted in 2014. That would not be the end of his football career though. On May 10, 2014, the San Diego Chargers signed Davis Jr. as a backup cornerback and occasional kick return specialist.
Davis Jr. doesn’t play every game or every down in San Diego, but he is still making the most of his opportunities. In fact, in his little bit of playing time at cornerback Davis Jr. already has a forced fumble. Davis Jr. has also accounted for 476 total return yards so far with the Chargers. Not bad for an undrafted free agent who was only given limited playing time to begin with.
Although most people would say that the Kick Six is his biggest accomplishment, Davis Jr. would disagree. Davis Jr. would tell you that being a good father to his young son, Chris Davis III, is what he is most proud of in his life. Losing his father at such a young age made Davis Jr. realize how important a father’s presence is. One of his favorite memories to date is celebrating the Iron Bowl victory on the field of Jordan Hare Stadium with his son.
“I try to be a great father to my son. That’s what I look forward to doing in life,” said Davis Jr., “I never forget why I’m doing this. My family is one of the biggest reasons I’m doing this, to take care of my family.”
Davis Jr.’s dedication to his family and friends is a resounding topic when his teammates are asked about him. People that know him can’t say enough about Chris Davis Jr. —football player, opportunist, and father.