Bills' Ryan Davis gives back with third Back to School Bash
Blake grad Ryan Davis is playing for his third NFL team in as many seasons, but as he gets ready to play this fall for the Buffalo Bills, one thing that hasn't changed is his third annual "Back to School Bash," which will give away 500 backpacks loaded with school supplies Friday at Dowdell Middle School.
"It's very special -- growing up in the Clair-Mel area, I went to Dowdell, so it's very close to me," said Davis, 28, a defensive end who played for the Dallas Cowboys last season after four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. "For me, I just want to give back directly to the community that helped raise me, so it was a no-brainer to have it here on this side of town."
Davis' bash will go from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday -- Dowdell is located at 1208 Wishing Well Way, halfway between downtown Tampa and Brandon, and it's open to all students. The event will have free food and music with a live DJ and bounce houses for the kids, and he's added a dunk tank, volunteering to go in himself.
Davis' only season in Dallas was limited by injuries, including one that required knee surgery in January, but he's recovered, is working on strengthening his quad muscle and is eager to prove himself in Buffalo, hoping to regain the form that had him get 6.5 sacks with the Jaguars in 2014.
"It's a place where I can really focus and get my mind right," said Davis, who played in college at Bethune-Cookman. "When Jacksonville released me and Dallas picked me up, it took a lot on me mentally. I went through a lot of stuff and it kind of messed me up a little bit. I didn't have the season I wanted in Dallas, and on top of that, I had injuries. I had to reset, and Buffalo believed in me, helped me rehab and get back healthy. I feel like this is a perfect fit for me."
The Bucs will go to Buffalo in October, so he'll get to see his hometown team in person. He had high praise for new Bucs safety J.J. Wilcox, who played with him in Dallas last season.
"Whew. Hard hitter," Davis said. "The receivers that come across the middle, you really have to have your head on a swivel. This guy, when he comes out of his breaks and comes downhill on a guy, it's amazing. They definitely got a ballhawk there and he's going to lay that wood. That's an old-school safety right there."