Cody Davis — a safety and special teams standout for the Los Angeles Rams and former Texas Tech Red Raider and Stephenville Yellow Jacket — was on hand at the Bruner GM store Saturday answering questions, signing autographs and taking pictures as part of the Cody Davis Sales Event throughout the month of July to celebrate Bruner Auto Family’s 10th anniversary in the Brownwood area.
Wendlee Broadcasting’s Mark Cope conducted a 30-minute live radio interview with Davis for The Breeze 96.9 FM. Among the topics discussed were Davis’ playing days at Stephenville, Texas Tech and with the Rams.
Davis — a three-year varsity starter in the secondary — was inducted into the Stephenville High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2014 along with his mother, Cindy Davis, who coached the Honeybees in basketball and cross country
“That was a great honor,” Davis said. “I got inducted with mom, whose been a coach and teacher there for a long time. She used to have me out there running and kept me in shape when I was a kid.”
Davis — who was also a two-time all-state selection — played against Brownwood just once at the varsity level, the 2008 season in which Stephenville chalked up a 49-10 victory. Through junior high and subvarsity football, Davis and his Yellow Jacket teammates earned wins in three of four outings against the Lions.
“Those were great memories growing up, an intense rivalry and it was exciting to play in it,” Davis said of the Battle of 377. “It was always intense and bitter, but they were real enjoyable games.”
Davis added that his father, David Davis — who has worked for the Bruner Auto Family in Stephenville since Cody was a child — would turn off the highlight video before the scoreboard could be seen on camera following the only loss by his son’s team against Brownwood.
After graduating from Stephenville, Davis was recruited by Mike Leach and played his college football at Texas Tech.
“I knew I wanted to play football and I received numerous offers, full-ride scholarships, from different places,” Davis said. “I sat down with my parents and talked it out and figured out the best opportunity for me was Texas Tech. I loved the area and coaches.”
Leach didn’t last in Lubbock through the end of Davis’ tenure, and Tommy Tuberville took over after the dismissal, but Davis still has fond memories of his first collegiate head coach.
“Interesting would be the best word for him,” Davis said of Leach. “At our first team meeting I couldn’t stop laughing at all the off the wall things he would say and how his mind works. He has a good collection of pirate stuff in his office, even a statue. And he’s even into UFOs. When I called to commit to Tech he was really interested in the sighting that happened in Stephenville. I almost couldn’t get him off the subject.”
Davis listed his on-field highlights at Texas Tech as the 39-33 upset of Texas during his red-shirt season of 2008 that kept the Longhorns out of the national championship game; the 2009 upset of No. 15 Nebraska, 31-10, in Lincoln; and the 41-38 triumph over No. 3 Oklahoma during the 2011 campaign.
But his greatest accolade at Texas Tech was being selected as a 2012 First-Team Capital One Academic All-American — the first Texas Tech football player to earn the honor since 2002. Current Texas Tech head coach and former quarterback Kliff Kingsbury picked up the honor a decade prior.
“That is awarded to the top 15 college athletes in the whole nation and I was lucky enough to be one of those,” Davis said. “They look at athletics, academics and community service. It was a big honor for me to go to New York and get recognized, and to meet a lot of legends of the game.”
Davis’ name wasn’t called during the 2014 NFL Draft, but he signed a free agent contract with the then-St. Louis Rams.
“I thought I had a chance to get drafted in rounds four through seven but that ended up falling through,” Davis said. “Fortunately I had a choice of where I wanted to go then and it was like picking a college. I went through my options and picked the best opportunity for me and that ended up being the Rams.”
Former Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, an NFL safety himself with the Chicago Bears, played an integral role in luring Davis to the organization.
“Jeff Fisher gave me my opportunity to come into this league,” Davis said. “He really fought hard for me as an undrafted free agent, believed in me and kept me around. He was the ultimate player’s coach and took care of us. He tailored our schedule and everything we did around us to give us the best opportunity to perform.”
Fisher was dismissed in the midst of last season as the Rams posted a 4-12 record in their return to Los Angeles.
Coaching changes are nothing new to Davis, though, who has seen four head coaches and one interim during his time in college and the NFL.
“Coaching changes have been kind of a mainstay in my college and pro career,” Davis said. “That’s just how the business is these days. There’s disappointments with the old staff going and excitement with the new staffs coming. You just really have to take the opportunity to buy into the new system and get to know the new coaches. You don’t have time to look back on the past and on the mistakes.”
Along with beginning his NFL career in 2013, Davis also married his wife Ashley that year. Three years later, the Davises had their first child, a son named Kane, and the family packed up and headed to west as the Rams returned to their Los Angeles roots in time for the 2016 season.
“Once you get in the NFL you get really good at learning how to deal with distractions and uncertainty,” said Davis of the turmoil regarding the Rams’ decision to leave St. Louis. “The first few years prepared me for that. Plus I’ve done everything a year at a time. In 2013 I finished college, got married and moved to St. Louis. In 2016 we had our first child, I renegotiated my first contract and moved to L.A. You learn to focus on what you can control and move forward. You don’t have time to look back or worry.”
Davis, 28, re-signed with the Rams prior to the 2016 season, a two-year deal that will expire after the 2017 campaign.
This season, the Rams are under new leadership as 31-year-old Sean McVay has taken over as head coach.
“He was hired when he was 30 years old and a couple of days later he had his 31st birthday,” Davis said of the youngest head coach in the NFL. “He has a bright future and was brought up and groomed under the Gruden family. He really brought the Washington offense to life and groomed Kirk Cousins to be a great quarterback and that’s what the Rams see in him. There’s youth, but also experience from learning under Gruden. There’s a lot of excitement right now and a change in the culture, and I think we’re trending in the right direction.”
The Rams also have a new defensive coordinator — former Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips.
“I was really excited when the news came out that he was going to be the defensive coordinator,” Davis said of Phillips. “He’s great — cool, calm and collected. He tweeted out when he got selected that the Rams would be the first team with a head coach in daycare and a defensive coordinator on Medicare. He’s just really funny, really cool and a player’s coach as well.”
Davis, Phillips and the Rams will embark on Texas on Oct. 1 as the Rams visit the Dallas Cowboys.
“Dallas is circled for me and my family,” Davis said. “It will be my first time to play back in Texas since my rookie year.” The Rams fell at the Houston Texans, 38-13, during the 2013 season.
The Rams report to training camp July 28 at UC-Irvine, and open their regular season Sept. 10 at home against the Indianapolis Colts.