Confidence pays off for Central receiver Davis

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Titus Davis barely played football in his sophomore and junior years at Wheaton-Warrenville South outside Chicago. Then, as a senior, he earned all-state honors, helping lead his team to a state championship in 2010.

After being highly productive for Central Michigan the last four years, the wide receiver has a good chance to be drafted next month, a dream that barely existed until he arrived in Mount Pleasant.

“I really doubted myself up until (my senior year),” Davis said at the combine two weeks ago. “I didn’t have much confidence, but I put in the work and I saw what I was capable of and I put up good numbers my freshman year. And I just saw that if I continue to work and continue to do I was doing then I can be successful and get to this next level.”

A first-team All-Mid-American Conference performer the past two seasons, Davis is part of a wide receiver class many analysts expect to be nearly as strong as last year’s. ESPN ranks him the 30th receiver in the draft, and a likely Day 3 pick.

Helping Davis’ stock is the recent ascension of former Central Michigan receiver Antonio Brown, who has become one of the NFL’s top receivers with the Steelers. Brown had three impressive seasons with the Chippewas, but his 4.56-second 40-yard dash at the combine contributed to him falling to the sixth round in 2010.

Though the 6-foot-1 Davis is different than Brown, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said his speed also would be critical to his draft stock.

“I think the important thing for him is to show some speed in his 40-yard dash,” Mayock said during a teleconference a couple of weeks ago.

Davis ran a 4.51, but didn’t blow anyone away at the combine. He believes, however, his route running is his best asset, and running precise routes can often make up for a lack of top-end speed.

He was consistent during his time at Central Michigan with at least 40 catches, 751 yards and eight touchdowns in each of his four years. As a senior, he had 60 catches for 980 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Not bad for a guy who didn’t play in high school until his senior season and was a two-star recruit.

“My coach told me it was because of my confidence,” Davis said about why he didn’t play earlier. “I wasn’t confident in my hands and things like that. By him telling me I was able to work on it a bit.”

Angry about not playing much as a sophomore and junior, Davis went out of his way to improve the summer, regularly calling his high school quarterback Reilly O’Toole to practice together.

“He was kind of, not mad at me, but it got to a point where I was hitting him up and saying, ‘Hey, let’s go to the field,’ and he’s like, ‘OK, again?’ ” Davis said. “I was that type of guy. I just wanted to get better, and so I told him almost every day let’s go to the field and work, let’s go to the field and work. That ended up working out for me.”

And while Davis is seeking advice from Brown now, he could be the one passing it along in a year or two. His younger brother, Corey, is a standout receiver at Western Michigan (941 yards as a freshman, 1,408 yards as a sophomore).