Davis ‘blessed’ for storied UNK career, will cherish Senior Day
KEARNEY, Neb. — TJ Davis isn’t sure what senior day is going to feel like.
“I told my mom I wasn’t going to cry,” Davis said.
After six seasons as a UNK football player, Saturday will be an emotional final game at Cope Stadium. It’s a day fans have been dreading, and opposing MIAA coaches have been dreaming of since he started his first game at quarterback five years ago.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment of it," Davis said. "From my teammates, from just meeting people out in the community, to hanging out with kids, I just embrace all of it.”
Davis is tied for the most career touchdowns in school history and will likely break the record Saturday. He’s racked up more than 10,000 total yards, has won two conference offensive player of the year awards and has twice been a finalist for the Harlon Hill Award, which is given to Division Two’s player of the year.
But he’s the last person to know about any of that.
“I would never have thought to this day that I would be trying to break the touchdown record," Davis said. "It just got brought up to me this week. I’m like, ‘what, the touchdown record?’”
Teammates and coaches are quick to bring up his humble nature… and his loyalty. Despite chances to move to Division l or leave when the new coaching staff came in, Davis stayed in Kearney.
“TJ Davis easily could have got in the transfer portal and left and probably had 30 scholarship offers and been gone to a lot of places in America," first-year head coach Ryan Held said. "But he believes in Kearney, Nebraska, he believes in UNK, he believes in his teammates. He will go down in history as one of the best players that’s ever worn the uniform.”
Why did he choose to stay? A genuine love for the city, a chance to grow in a new system and the chance to continue competing with his Loper brothers.
“That’s one of the reasons why I stayed, my teammates," Davis said. "We got great bonds outside of the field. I think a lot of them guys, if I were to get married, would be in my wedding.”
Davis has been the face of the program for more than four years.
“Yeah, that’s Mr. UNK right there,” cornerback Armani Webster said.
Even with the external praise, fellow sixth-year senior Armani Webster says Davis has remained the team leader internally.
“You see the leadership skills in him even when he’s just joking around," Webster said. "A lot of — all of us, I don’t even want to say a lot — all of us, we gravitate to him. It’s easy to, he’s a charismatic guy, he’s fun.”
Davis’s career includes almost everything but a championship. He says he’ll leave Foster Field with no regrets and a heart filled with gratitude.
“I’m just blessed to be able to be here, have an opportunity to play for the Lopers," Davis said. "At the end of the day, I couldn’t ever just thought or pictured anything going like this. But at the end of the day, I’m just blessed to have this opportunity and I’m going to cherish it.”
Next up for Davis is training for pro days. He hasn’t locked in where he’ll train or if he’ll consider a position change, but he plans to do whatever he can to keep playing the game he loves.