Awaiting his chance: Blue Springs grad Khalil Davis eager to earn his way into NFL

Bill Althaus
Nebraska defensive lineman Khalil Davis (94) sacks Colorado quarterback Steven Montez in a 2018 game. The Blue Springs High School graduate, who was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft by Tampa Bay, is training in Southern California to prepare for training camp with the Buccaneers.

Khalil Davis’ days start early in the morning.

The former Blue Springs High School all-state defensive lineman and track and field standout gets up at 5:30 a.m., hits his favorite fishing hole for an hour or so, then heads to his gym, where he works out for two hours.

“I’m in a pretty good routine right now,” said Davis, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. “I’m living out in California with my girlfriend Emily in Orange County, and it’s a lot different than Blue Springs, but I really like it.”

When asked if Emily enjoyed fishing, Davis joked, “No, she really doesn’t. It’s the only thing that keeps her from being perfect.”

Khalil and his twin brother Carlos were two of the premier athletes to ever attend Blue Springs High School, being named all-state in football and earning all-state honors in track and field as throwers. They then maintained their lifelong teammate status by attending the University of Nebraska, where they were All-Big Ten honorees in football and earned All-Big Ten and All-America honors in the discus in track and field.

After Khalil was selected with the 194th pick by the Buccaneers, Carlos was drafted in the seventh round (232nd overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I honestly think I was happier when Carlos got drafted than when I got the call,” Khalil said. “For years we have always played on the same teams, and now it’s time for us to go our separate ways.

“But I have this dream about making the Buccaneers and Carlos making the Steelers and us playing each other with all our family at the game. We’re both working hard to make that dream happen.”

Khalil Davis led the 2019 Cornhuskers with eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss while registering a career-best 45 tackles. 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.

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 was named Nebraska Defensive Lineman of the Year for both 2018 and 2019, and earned third-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and honorable mention All-Big Ten from the media last fall.

“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. “It’s all so different with the pandemic. I was able to keep in touch with our coaches, our strength coach and our nutritionist, and they have a good plan for me, so I’ll be ready when I fly out to Tampa Bay.”

He said he can’t wait to see what the scene is like at Tampa Bay, where Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski will be reunited as teammates.

“I’m just like the fans, having Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski on the team is going to be so much fun,” Davis said. “I know I’m going to do all I can to make the team, and it should be a fun season.”