I recently had the pleasure of sharing time with one of Tech's all time greats, Andre Davis. Andre is living in Myrtle Beach, S.C. now, but to say he is retired would be an understatement. At 35 years old, he is keeping life beyond busy with a family, and a foundation that is very close to his heart. After nine N.F.L. seasons, Andre shares two league records. He caught a 99 yard touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals as a member of the Cleveland Browns. In 2007, he ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the same game.
Andre did not compete at the Senior Bowl following his 2001 campaign, as injuries shaped his pre-draft thought process. Andre reflected back, "I did have the chance to go, however I was fighting an injury at that time. Instead of not putting my best foot forward there, I chose to stay in Blacksburg to rehab and get better." He was looking ahead to Virginia Tech's pro day in Blacksburg, with eyes to Indianapolis and the combine. When he got to the combine, Andre's impressions were typical. "Its a weird feeling when you have all these coaches and scouts and officials just kind of looking at you. Does he look like an athlete? Its not a game. You're just there to test well in all the opportunities and all the events you have to go in." I asked Andre if he felt good about his performance. "I feel like I left a little on the table. There was one drill where I had focused on in Blacksburg, and I knew the expectation, and fell short." That has to be the sentiment of many combine attendees while they have the most pressure-packed interview of their lives.
At Virginia Tech, Davis was part of that magical 1999 season. When I asked him what his greatest Virginia Tech memory was, he reflected back to the "Miracle in Morgantown". It was bittersweet for Andre, who had his cousin pass away that week. I asked Andre if he thought Shane Graham was going to be able to make that kick. That game was on C.B.S. and the player picture they showed looked like Opie Taylor. Graham, a tenured pro in his own right, would still get carded buying a six pack today. Andre said, "Yes, I felt he would make that kick. To go out there with an undefeated season on the line and knock it right down the middle was so impressive on his part. That was the type of guy we had on the team, to step up in those situations."
Looking at the current state of the Hokies, Andre felt that youth is part of the issue. Another problem facing the Hokies was a lack of identity. In Andre's day, "You knew what you were going to get in all phases of the game. I look at special teams that had always been a momentum changer in teams of Virginia Tech past. That starts in the locker room." Talking with Andre, he feels leadership amongst the players was perhaps another issue, as opposed to the coaching staff. I agree with Andre completely that there was a lack of consistency which led to the Hokies' downfall this season.
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Thanks to social media, Andre has reconnected with former teammates, and the ones he knew well are still close today. In 2000 against West Virginia. Andre spoke about Wayne Ward and the tremendous block he made. "I'll always remember that block. That guy was horizontal. I'll never forget that guy." That block, by the way, broke Davis for a touchdown return.
In his current life Andre's passions are his family and his foundation. "After nine years in the N.F.L. I am still considered a pretty young guy. Its been pretty nice to hook up with some people here in Myrtle Beach. One of those people is Reggie Sanders, who played 17 years of major league baseball. With him, along with my financial advisor Scott Pyle, we've been able to start an initiative." 2 Live Beyond is Andre's foundation. The goal is to ,"Look beyond ourselves, so others' can dream beyond their circumstances." Andre also works to feed and clothe 5500 children in Rwanda through his affiliated ministries. Bottom line is, the guy was a class act then, and he is a better class act now. He is working with autistic children by partnering through S.O.S. charities. "This is our version of improving our communities by helping one child at a time."
You can help Andre in his valiant fight by following @2livebeyond on Twitter, Instagram, and 2livebeyond on Facebook.
To follow Andre personally connect @ad88vt on Twitter.