You probably know Washington Redskins Safety Akeem Davis from the NFL Network show Undrafted, or from one of his many tone setting special teams hits during his first season in the nation's capital. Davis went undrafted in 2013, but the Memphis product didn't give up on his dream there. Davis continued to train, grind, and work his ass off to make his NFL dream a reality.
Davis got the chance to prove himself with an invite to Washington Redskins training camp. Despite making the Redskins final roster after a strong camp and pre-season, Davis' roller coaster ride to capturing his dream of making it in the NFL wasn't quite over. After the Redskins claimed Duke Ihenacho the team waived the undrafted rookie, only to sign him to the practice squad the next day. Davis was waived and added to the practice squad once more before being promoted to the 53-man roster on October 7th; and Davis never looked back.
So what do you need to know about the undrafted, hard-hitting, quiet, yet vocal leader?
My interview with Davis:
Davis is a tone setter, and although generally quiet, Davis isn't afraid to speak up; as shown in this video from CSN Washington. I asked Davis if he envisioned becoming more of a vocal leader moving forward:
It all depends, as an undrafted rookie I just came to work every day put my head down and keep grinding. I'm generally not outspoken, and I prefer to let my playing and production speak for itself, but I'm also not afraid to speak up when I need to.
Davis was born to be a gunner on special teams, he is physical and embraces his role on special teams. I asked Davis if he envisioned himself becoming a physical, in the box type safety, or more of a rangy free safety.
If I could pick both I would, I view myself as a versatile player. Obviously I'm not afraid to lower the boom, but I have experience playing both strong and free safety. I think Coach Raheem saw me as more of a rangy safety, but I'm ready to embrace whatever role the new coaching staff has in mind for me.
The safety position is one of the more wide open on the Redskins roster, the Redskins will likely have two new starters lined up on opening day in 2015, I asked Davis what he had to improve upon to grab a bigger role:
I just need to work, show my accountability, dependability, and availability. I've learned a lot about being a professional from guys like DeAngelo Hall and Ryan Clark. I've learned how to have a good work ethic, and be a good teammate. I just need to do my best, keep working at my craft, and let the coaches make those decisions.
Now that you have a full year on the active roster under your belt, what are your goals for the 2015 season? What do you want to improve?
I knew my role going into last season, but moving forward I want to continue to establish myself as a core special teams player, and continue to become a complete player. Improving every aspect of my game, from special teams to safety. I want to be a better person and teammate. I want to be valuable, an asset to the Redskins, I want to be ready to perform all my roles at a high level.
What's the biggest obstacle you've had to overcome?
The death of my mother, going undrafted, and tearing my ACL don't come close. I think about her every day, and you never truly overcome that.
Favorite football memory:
Delivering the hit on Dwayne Harris, it felt great to make a big play, it swung the momentum in our favor and we ended up coming out on top.
What current and former player do you model your game after?
Ryan Clark and Brian Dawkins. I love the passion and intensity they both play the game of football with. Not just on the field, but how they prepare, and study. I admire the two of them on and off the field, as football players and men, and I was lucky enough to learn a lot from Ryan Clark while we were teammates.
What did you dream of being as a kid?
I've always wanted to be a football player, which is why it was so satisfying to make it to the NFL after such a long journey, but I'm not satisfied yet, I want to be great.
What do you want to do after football?
I would like to be a high school athletic director. I think I could continue to be a role model and give back to the kids, and stay involved in athletics.
Davis is a young player, and one that I think the Redskins would be wise to keep around. There is always plenty of drama surrounding the Redskins locker room no matter what time of the year it is, and the Redskins could use a few more players like Davis who comes to work with his hard hat on every day and embraces his role. Not to mention that Davis has become a key part of the Redskins special teams unit. Give Davis a follow on Twitter @DA_DREAM47