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Titus Davis, CMU receiving legend who finished famous bowl lateral, dies of cancer at 27

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Titus Davis, arguably the greatest receiver in Central Michigan football history and the older brother of former Western Michigan star and current Tennessee Titans receiver Corey Davis, died Wednesday morning surrounded by friends and family. He was 27.

Titus Davis had been battling a rare former of cancer of the kidneys called Renal Medullary Carcinoma.

Family and friends announced the illness in July in a GoFundMe post. He began chemotherapy in late July, flying to and from treatments in Houston. The average survival after diagnosis is less than a year.

Titus Davis was arguably Central Michigan's greatest receiver.

His death was announced on Twitter by Miami Dolphins safety and Grand Rapids native Kavon Frazier, a teammate of Davis' at Central Michigan. He called the receiver, "Still to this day one of the most talented players I’ve played with."

Family friend Samantha Hall confirmed Davis' death to The News.

"I'm heartbroken by the loss of Titus, who was first and foremost an outstanding person," Dan Enos, Davis' coach at CMU who now is on staff at Cincinnati, said in a statement to The News. "On the field, he was a phenomenal athlete and competitor. He was also a great friend and teammate to many.

"From the first moments we started recruiting him, we at CMU football knew he was something incredibly special. He was a joy to coach and be around.

"My deepest sympathies are extended to his family during this difficult time."

Davis played four seasons at Central Michigan, and had a historic resume. He was the first player in Football Bowl Subdivision history with eight or more receiving touchdowns in four different seasons, and he passed Antonio Brown to hold program records at CMU for receiving yards (3,700) and receiving touchdowns (37). He is fourth in program history with 204 career receptions.

The receiving touchdowns are fourth in Mid-American Conference history, and the receiving yards are fifth. His brother, Corey, is first in both categories.

Davis earned All-MAC recognition each of his four years, one of three CMU players to do that. He was a first-team selection his junior and senior seasons. Davis was a second-team selection as a sophomore and third-team as a freshman.

"Life is too short," Cooper Rush, Davis' teammate at CMU and a Dallas Cowboys quarterback, wrote on Twitter. "One of the best players and competitors I've ever been around."

Davis' most-famous play at Central Michigan came in the 2014 Bahamas Bowl, when he finished off a three-lateral Hail Mary for the seemingly tying touchdown with no time left on the clock.

Davis ran the final 13 yards for the score. Central Michigan needed an extra point to tie Western Kentucky, but Enos went for two and it failed, so CMU lost, 49-48. At one point in the game, Central Michigan trailed, 49-14, but scored 34 points in the fourth quarter.

In the game, Davis caught four touchdown passes from Rush, including the lateral.

"I always loved him," said Sherrone Moore, Michigan's tight-ends coach who was on staff at Central Michigan for Davis' senior season. "He was a fierce competitor.

"It's super sad."

Moore echoed sentiments shared Wednesday by many of Davis' former teammates, coaches and acquaintances on social media, calling him "humble," "kind" and an "outstanding human being."

Davis went undrafted after college, but briefly caught on with several teams' practice squads, including the San Diego Chargers, New York Jets (twice), Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears.

Davis grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, winning a state championship in 2010 when he had two touchdowns and 104 receiving yards in the title game. Eventually, brother Corey joined him on the high-school team. Titus Davis also was an acclaimed high-school track star, in the long jump and two relays.

Titus and Corey met twice in college, with Central winning in 2013 and Western in 2014. They both wore jersey No. 84. They're two of seven siblings.

The Central Michigan athletics family has coped with a series of tragedies in recent years, with the deaths of running back Zurlon Tipton in 2016 at age 26, running back Derrick Nash in 2015 at age 20, running back Ontario Sneed in 2012 at age 25, and broadcaster Don Chiodo last December at age 54.

Titus Davis was survived by two sons. Funeral arrangements were pending Wednesday.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984