Making A Lasting Impression
Nov. 22, 2012
By Blake Barington
Senior Linebacker and team captain Akeem Davis has been a leader on the field and in the classroom for the Memphis Tigers during his four years in the Bluff City. But, he has also spent much of his time volunteering around the city of Memphis for numerous events and organizations.
While living in Memphis, Davis has volunteered at local elementary schools, been a participant in the Dr. Martin Luther King National Day of Service, conducted bible studies at the First Baptist Broad Avenue Church and much more. However, one of Davis' most cherished service projects has been visiting the Hanley Elementary School in the Orange Mound community this past year.
"That's one of the ones that kind of hit home because those kids reminded me a lot of myself when I was in the fifth grade," Davis said. "When you open up your mouth to speak, you can tell that they are listening. You go and look at those kids and how they look up to you and want to be like you. It helps them, but it helps me more to know that the Lord chose me to do what I'm doing. I can't explain the feeling that comes from it."
During the 2011 season, Davis led the charge in having the coaching staff and players wear pink wristbands and socks for the Tigers' game against East Carolina on Oct. 15 in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. This gesture was personal for Davis as his mother, Karen, died of cancer exactly one year earlier to the day in 2010.
With his countless volunteer service as well as his demeanor and academic and athletic excellence, Davis was one of 10 finalists for the ARA Sportsmanship Award.
"It means a lot," Davis said. "Mostly, I'm thankful because I had no idea people were looking at the community service that I did. To know that somebody is watching you and watching your character day in and day out is a big deal to me. I know my mother would be proud of me if she was here. I'm glad I'm able to do what I do because of the people who have helped me along the way."
A native of Laurel, Miss., Davis said there is one moment as a child that will always stick with him because of the impact it had in how he talks to youngsters today.
"I remember when I was smaller Steve McNair came to our community," Davis said. "I grew up in a place called Brown Circle. I will never forget that moment. He spoke about how we can be anything that we want to be. The only thing that is holding us back from what we want to be is us. Every time I get an opportunity to talk to kids, I tell them that the only thing that is holding them back from being what they want to be is themselves. I try to put myself in a position to be an example to kids. I'm glad the good Lord chose me because that's one of the things I'm very passionate about."
Davis graduated cum laude in December 2011 with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration (Finance). As an undergrad at the U of M, Davis was a member of the Memphis Institute for Leadership Education (MILE) program, which helps upperclassmen associate with business leaders around the city of Memphis.
"The MILE program is a program where young leaders from the Fogelman College of Business and Economics connect with a businessman or businesswoman throughout the city of Memphis who teach you how to be a professional - proper business etiquette, going out to a business dinner, how to conduct yourself in a business meeting and real-life, hands-on knowledge that you wouldn't gain in the classroom," Davis said.
On the field, Davis has been a strong force for the Tigers defense, averaging nearly seven tackles a game during the last two seasons. In 2011, Davis ranked second on the team in tackles with 78, including 57 solo stops. He heads into Saturday's season finale against Southern Miss with 62 tackles during his senior year including 2.5 tackles for lost yards, 1.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and two pass breakups.
Memphis will honor 16 seniors prior to Saturday's game. Kickoff for the USM/Memphis game is 3:30 p.m.
"It's been a rollercoaster but I wouldn't change it for the world," Davis said. "A lot of things have happened, good and bad, but football is just like life. We face adversities and go through adversities. It's not about how hard you get hit; it's about how many times you get up. That has tested me here at Memphis. I've thought about just dropping it all, but throughout these four years there have been great people in my corner. My family has been great throughout these four years being at games and encouraging me throughout the whole process to keep going."
Davis said that the new coaching staff at Memphis has the Tigers headed in the right direction because of their attitude towards the team on and off the field.
"First of all, they're great people, and I think that's a huge asset for turning the program around," he said. "Coach Fuente has brought along some guys who not only connect with you on a football level, but on a personal level as well. Building that personal relationship allows football players to want to go out and give the extra effort."
Davis has plenty of goals following his playing career.
"I have dreams of becoming a businessman one day and making an impact," Davis said. "I eventually want to become an athletic director so I can be hands-on with kids and sports and build relationships with people. That's one of the few jobs where I can do all three things that I think I was called to do."
Davis says he wants to continue volunteering around the community as long as he can.
"Giving back never stops," Davis said. "It doesn't matter how old you are or how young you are, you can find some way to give back. I'll do that until the good Lord calls me home."