Tracy Davis was doing her best to quietly practice the type of speech that only a mother can give to her son.
Tension was high at the Davis’ Blue Springs home Saturday, as it was the last day of the NFL Draft, and the Davis family’s twin sons – Blue Springs High School graduates Carlos and Khalil – were still waiting for their names to be called.
Early Saturday evening, Khalil was selected in the sixth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who used the 194th overall pick to take the Nebraska defensive lineman.
Soon, Tracy, her husband Carl and daughter Cymone began dancing and celebrating.
"I looked over at Carlos," Tracy said, "and he was so happy for his twin brother, but I knew he was wondering if he was going to have his name called.
"So I began preparing my speech. You know, the one where you tell your son that he has accomplished a lot in his life and sometimes those big dreams don’t come true, but he has experienced so many wonderful things."
About an hour later, Carlos’ cell phone rang, and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was on the other end. He asked to speak to Carlos as the 232nd seventh round pick was about to be announced.
"He said, ‘Carlos, do you want to be a Steeler?’" Davis said with a joy that is reserved for phone calls just like this one. "I told him ‘Yes sir, I do.’’
And that’s when the real celebration started.
Tracy was dancing with Khalil. Carl and Cymone were clapping and jumping, and soon, Khalil – all 313 pounds of muscle and joy – jumped onto his 308-pound brother and gave him a hug he never wanted to end.
"Honestly, it was the best feeling of my life when they called Carlos," said Khalil, who led the 2019 Cornhuskers with eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss. "This might be the greatest night of our lives. I got my call, and then, we all knew Carlos was going to be selected, we just had to wait a while. Honestly, when Carlos got the call I almost started to cry – and I did a little, tears of joy."
Ironically, Carlos was selected with the same pick – 232nd overall – as his former Wildcats teammate Elijah Lee, who was taken by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2017 draft. Lee, a linebacker, recently signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions.
The Davis twins are Blue Springs High School legends as both were two-time state champions in football and track and field. They went on to star at Nebraska, where they were All-Big Ten defensive lineman and All-America discus throwers.
They are the first brothers in the history of Nebraska football to be selected in the same NFL Draft.
"I don’t know what the odds are of brothers being selected in the NFL draft, but I know they have to be pretty small," Khalil said. "This is a dream come true for me and Carlos and our family. And we are so blessed to have shared this moment with our family.
"But I will admit, there were some tense moments – but I think all the waiting made it even more special when we got our calls."
Khalil is the 11th Husker to be selected by Tampa Bay and the first since Kenny Bell in 2015.
Khalil had a strong showing at the NFL Combine in February, running the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds – the sixth-fastest time recorded by a defensive lineman in Indianapolis.
Carlos recorded six tackles for loss and four sacks last season and also had a strong combine, where he ran a 4.82-second 40, placing him in a tie for ninth among defensive linemen. Carlos also recorded 27 reps in the bench, tying for 10th.
Carlos is the 15th Husker to be selected by Pittsburgh and the first since Keith Williams in 2011. He was the lone defensive linemen chosen by the Steelers in the 2020 draft.
Khalil began his Nebraska career as a 4-3 defensive tackle before switching to defensive end in a 3-4 scheme for his final three seasons. A two-time All-Big Ten honoree, Davis made 106 tackles and had 26 tackles for loss and 13 sacks in 47 career games.
"I learned so much and grew so much as a player and a person at Nebraska, and now I have the opportunity to show the coaches at Tampa Bay what I can do," Khalil said. "I spoke to their general manager (Jason Licht) and he said we’d work out all the travel arrangements later this weekend."
Carlos played both defensive tackle and defensive end for the Huskers, finishing with 36 starts in 48 games.
Much like his time at Blue Springs High School, Carlos also excelled at the discus for the Cornhuskers.
He was a two-time All-American, finishing in 16th-place at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships and earning honorable-mention All-America status in 2018, finishing 23rd at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
While the Davis brothers are accustomed to success, they are not accustomed to being on opposing teams. For the first time since flag football, the twins will not be teammates.
"It’s time," Khalil said, "and we’re ready. I’m heading off to Tampa Bay and Carlos is going to Pittsburgh to start exciting new chapters in our lives."
Carlos agreed, adding, "All we ever wanted was a chance, and Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh are giving us the chance to play in the NFL. That is so exciting for us."
While the entire football world is talking about legendary New England quarterback Tom Brady joining the Buccaneers, Khalil is thrilled to join the same defensive line as perennial All-Pro Ndamukong Suh, also a former Husker.
"I’m going to be learning from the best, and I can’t wait," Khalil said. "And the Buccaneers GM (Licht) played at Nebraska and the team has all kinds of Nebraska connections. It’s the perfect fit for me."
Carlos believes Pittsburgh could be the perfect fit for his style of play, too.
"I got to talk personally to Coach Tomlin and he seemed excited to draft me, and I am going to a historic program," Carlos said. "I just want to work hard, make an impact and show them what I can do."