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Thomas Davis (American football)

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Position:  Outside linebacker
Name  Thomas Davis
Height  1.85 m

Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Spouse  Kelly Davis (m. 2008)
College:  Georgia
Children  Thomas Davis Jr
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Date of birth:  (1983-03-22) March 22, 1983 (age 32)
High school:  Shellman (GA) Randolph-Clay
Role  American football outside linebacker
Current team  Carolina Panthers (#58 / Outside linebacker)
Awards  Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award
Similar People  Luke Kuechly, Josh Norman, Greg Olsen, Ron Rivera, Jonathan Stewart

Place of birth:  Shellman, Georgia

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Thomas Antonio Davis Sr. (born March 22, 1983) is an American football linebacker for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). Davis played college football for the University of Georgia, and was recognized as a consensus All-American. He was drafted by the Panthers in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. In 2012, Davis became the first professional athlete to return to play in his top sporting league after three anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.


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Early years

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Davis was born in Shellman, Georgia. He attended Randolph-Clay High School in Cuthbert, GA, where he was a four-sport star in football, basketball, baseball, and track. In football, he played running back, wide receiver, quarterback, defensive end, defensive back, punter, kicker, and kick returner at various times throughout his career. As a junior, he averaged 30 yards per punt, had two kickoff returns, one punt return, and one fumble return for touchdowns. As a senior, he earned Class AA All-State honorable mention by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Georgia Sports Writers Association (GSWA) after rushing for 1,032 yards, leading the region in scoring with 108 points in the regular season.

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In addition to football, Davis played baseball and ran track, where he qualified for the GHSAAA State T&F Championships for the 100-meter dash, placing 6th with a time of 11.1 seconds, and the 400 relay, finishing in 43.98 seconds. In the agility tests, he ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash, had a 355-pound bench press, 520-pound squat, 324-pound hang clean and 34-inch vertical jump.


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Davis was regarded by many as one of the finest athletes ever from the state of Georgia, but due to the small size of his school, his chances for exposure were relatively low. He was not highly recruited out of high school and was only offered a scholarship to one Division I college, which he accepted to become a member of the Georgia Bulldogs.

College career

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Davis received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Georgia, where he played for coach Mark Richt's Georgia Bulldogs football team from 2002 to 2004. Following his sophomore season in 2003, he earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) honors. He was recognized as a first-team All-SEC selection and a consensus first-team All-American after his junior season in 2004. In 39 career games, he was effective as both a rush linebacker and a free safety, recording 272 tackles, 18 for a loss, 10.5 sacks, three interceptions, six forced fumbles, and nine fumble recoveries. He majored in consumer economics.

Carolina Panthers

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Davis was selected in the first round (14th overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft. Even though he was picked as a safety in the 2005 NFL Draft, he was converted to linebacker during his rookie year. In his debut season he played in 16 games making one start. He made an impact in the December 4 home game against the Atlanta Falcons, when he was used as a quarterback spy to contain Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. Using his speed and benefiting from great play from other members of the defense, Davis helped the Panthers beat the Vick-led Falcons for the first time in franchise history. Vick was held to 171 yards passing and was sacked five times for a loss totaling 36 yards. Davis finished the season with 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

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In the 2006 season, he started in all 14 games that he played in recording 88 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

In the 2007 season, he started all 16 games for the first time in his career. He finished the season with 88 tackles and three sacks.

In the 2008 season, Davis had a career year. He started in all 16 games for the second year in a row, but this time he recorded 113 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and forced 2 fumbles.

Davis was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list with an injured right knee on October 31, 2010.

On September 18, 2011, Davis tore his ACL for the third time in three years. No NFL player – or professional athlete of any kind – had ever recovered and returned to play in the NFL or in their sports league after three ACL tears. He stated at the time that he would become the first and hoped to be an inspiration to others.

In March 2012, Thomas Davis restructured his contract to save the Panthers approximately $3.8 million in cap space. The Panthers were reported to be tight on cap space going into the 2012 season.

Davis returned to play for the Panthers in 2012, fulfilling his declaration to return to the NFL after a third ACL injury. He recording 105 tackles, an interception, and two forced fumbles in just 12 starts.

2013 season

The 2013 season marked the high point of Davis's career so far. In a startling comeback from three years of injuries, Davis started all 16 games and recorded a career-high 123 tackles and four sacks, in addition to two interceptions and a forced fumble. He was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month of November and won the NFC Defensive Player of the Week during week 6. He played alongside Chase Blackburn and Luke Kuechly in what quickly became one of the most dominant linebacker corps in the league, a significant part of 2013 Carolina's second-ranked defense.

2014 season

Through the first five weeks of the 2014 season, Pro Football Focus rated Davis as the best 4-3 outside linebacker in coverage. In the must-win finale at Atlanta, Davis returned a fumble 33 yards to set up a crucial touchdown that started the rout of the Falcons. The Panthers won the game 34-3, becoming the first team in the NFC South to win back-to-back division titles and sending the Panthers into the playoffs for the second year in a row, the first time in franchise history. Davis' leadership, play, and consistency was a big contributor in these achievements, along with those same attributes found in Kuechly and tight end Greg Olsen. In the Panthers wild-card playoff matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, Davis was a part of a stifling defense that set an NFL record for fewest yards allowed in a playoff game, limiting the Cardinals to just 78 total yards and forcing three turnovers. According to Pro Football Focus, Davis was the best defensive player on the field, registering seven tackles while also grading out as the best player in coverage for the Panthers, showcasing his roots as a safety. For the season, Davis was among the league leaders in pass coverage linebackers allowing just 7.1 yards per reception. On January 31, 2015, Davis was named the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year by the NFL, recognizing his off-the-field community service work.

2015 season

On June 15, 2015, Davis signed a two-year contract extension. Davis continued his outstanding play during the start of the 2015 NFL season, recording 25 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble through just the first three games. The next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Davis recorded 11 tackles and 1 interception in a 37-23 victory. During a Week 6 victory over the Seattle Seahawks Davis had 8 tackles along with one sack. Davis played very well during the Panthers Sunday Night victory over the Philadelphia Eagles recording a season high 13 tackles. Through the first 15 weeks of the 2015 NFL season, Davis set career highs in sacks (5.5) and interceptions (3). For his efforts, Davis was named to the 2016 Pro Bowl, a rare honor to an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Davis finished the regular season with 105 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 4 interceptions. He was named to the AP All-Pro First Team. During the Divisional Round Playoffs, another showdown against Seattle, Davis secured the Panthers win by catching the Seahawks onside kick attempt with 1:12 left in the game, sending the Panthers into the NFC Championship Game. It was Davis' second onside kick recovery of the season, the first coming against the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving night game. Davis returned to the NFC Championship game for the first time since his rookie season in 2005, the only active Panther to have played in both Conference Championship games. Davis was knocked out of the Conference win in the second quarter with a broken arm, and finished the game with six tackles. He vowed to return for the Super Bowl and went into surgery early the following morning on the arm to uphold that promise. Davis played in Super Bowl 50. In the game, he recorded seven tackles, but the Panthers fell to the Denver Broncos by a score of 24–10. According to Pro Football Focus, Davis had the second-highest coverage grade of any linebacker in the NFL behind only teammate, Luke Kuechly. Davis was named the recipient of PFWA's 2016 Good Guy Award. He was ranked 54th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016.

2016 season

Davis started all 16 games, recording 106 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 passes defensed and 3 interceptions. He was named to his second straight Pro Bowl, and was ranked 89th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.

2017 season

On August 15, 2017, Davis signed a one-year contract extension with the Panthers through the 2018 season.

Personal life

Davis is married to Kelly Davis and has four children. He is an Evangelical Christian. Davis' cousin, Robert Davis, is a wide receiver for the Washington Redskins.


Thomas Davis (American football) Wikipedia