WMU’s Davis 'emotional' after setting NCAA receiving record

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Corey Davis runs after a catch against Toledo on Friday night.

Kalamazoo — On a night Western Michigan set out to set a program mark for excellence, its star receiver, Corey Davis, reached quite the personal milestone Friday night.

With a 7-yard catch from quarterback Zach Terrell midway through the second quarter, Davis, a senior, broke the Football Bowl Subdivision record for receiving yards in a career. The catch put him at 5,007 for his career, a yard better than Nevada's Trevor Insley, who had 5,006 from 1996-99.

Davis now is at 5,068 for his career after racking up 81 yards on eight catches in a 55-35 victory over Toledo, which secured the Broncos a 12-0 regular season and a spot in next week's Mid-American Conference championship game.

"The greatest wide receiver of all-time in the history of college football, statistically, is right here in little, old Kalamazoo, Michigan," WMU head coach P.J. Fleck said. "He's not little, though."

Davis, of Wheaton, Illinois, has set numerous WMU, MAC and college-football records.

On Friday, with his 50th career touchdown reception, he also became the first player ever with at least 5,000 career receiving yards, 300 receptions and 50 touchdown catches.

His 317 career receptions are a MAC record, and he's the first player with four seasons of 900 yards or more. His 17 touchdown catches are the most in FBS this season.

No wonder there were professional scouts on hand Friday night, including one from the Cincinnati Bengals. He figures to be an intriguing commodity come the April draft.

WMU wins MAC West, has clear path to Cotton Bowl

Until then, there's more work to do for Davis, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder who was more interested in answering the first part of a two-part question (the team) than the second part (his milestone).

"I was pretty emotional," said Davis, who didn't know which catch broke the record — as WMU waited until a break in the action to announce it to an appreciative crowd.

"But I tried to keep it together. We've got an entire game to finish.

"I thank God every day for the talent he's blessed me with, and I don't take anything for granted."

Leaving early

There were a couple big downers late Friday night for WMU.

In the fourth quarter, WMU junior linebacker Caleb Bailey was ejected on a targeting call and now will miss the first half of the MAC championship game against Ohio.

Later, senior safety Justin Ferguson suffered a leg injury so gruesome ESPN2 refused to show a replay.

He was carted off the field to an ovation from the crowd, and as he was leaving, Ferguson gestured a, "Row the Boat," WMU's rallying cry since Fleck took over four years ago. It means, essentially, look forward, not back, and stay positive, regardless of the situation, as you can't control the past.

Fleck held Ferguson's hand as he was put on the cart, and said he got goosebumps when he saw Ferguson rowing.

"That will forever stand out in my mind," Fleck said. "Twelve wins will never define this program or this culture. Ever. Ever. The type of people, the power of the people, will define us, and we have incredible character all over the place."

Fleck said Ferguson wasn't always mature as a college student, but grew by leaps and bounds under the WMU culture. He's a new father, and will be married soon.

Extra points

Attendance at Waldo Stadium was 24,191, setting the program's single-season attendance record, despite official capacity having been reduced in recent years.

WMU drew more than 143,000 for the season.

"That might not sound like a lot to Ann Arbor," Fleck said, "but that's a lot to us."

... WMU running back Jamauri Bogan didn't take hardly any credit for his 200-yard rushing performance.

"A lot of those holes were pretty big, a few of you guys could run there," Bogan said, to a room of mildly out-of-shape reporters. "If you have semi-good speed."