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The Antelope

TJ Davis focuses on this season while planning another

TJ Davis reached 4,000 career passing yards this season. Photo provided by Kylie Schwab / Antelope Staff

UNK quarterback TJ Davis’ record-breaking career has flipped the script about Loper football. The Lopers have not had a losing season since Davis took over as the starter midway through the 2019 campaign.

Due to the COVID-19 extra year of eligibility, Davis is planning on coming back to UNK for one more season next year. He will graduate in May and take master’s classes next fall.

“A lot of people have been asking me about that,” Davis said. “I’m gonna finish what I started.” 

Davis had multiple offers out of high school, including a few Division I walk-on opportunities. Many schools wanted him to play receiver or safety, but he believed he could play quarterback at the next level.

“I thought UNK was one of the best fits for me to play quarterback,” Davis said. “It was under a system that definitely fit me the best.”

Davis’ natural ability intrigued the UNK coaching staff.

“He was a big, stringy athletic kid,” Lynn said. “He was a multiple sport guy. He was very humble and even-keeled with his personality. Obviously, the athletic tangibles are what we were drawn to, but getting to know him throughout the recruiting process allured us even more.”

Coordinator Levi Gallas helped Davis figure out that UNK was the right fit for him.

“He did a really good job of actually trying to keep in contact with me,” Davis said. “He took it to a personal level where he got to know me. Once I took my visit I committed right on the spot. I knew that they were building something special here and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Davis redshirted in 2018 and got his first start in 2019 on homecoming in a 45-10 win over Northeastern State. The team went on to win the Mineral Water Bowl against Winona State that season.

“That truly just set us up for success in the future,” Davis said. “Knowing that we could do things like that. At this point, we don’t just want to be in a bowl game. We want to get to the playoffs and play for something bigger.”

Davis became a captain in UNK’s next full season in 2021.

“It means a lot to me,” Davis said. “It shows that my teammates trust me. It’s not just on the field, it’s off the field as well. You just try to do the right things all the time. Show your character at all times and make other guys want to be like you.”

Davis has the third-most rushing yards in school history with 3,402. He was the Harlon Hill runner-up in 2021 and won MIAA player of the year passing for 2,320 yards and running for 1,151 yards. 

“It gives you a lot of confidence,” Davis said. “Obviously I try not to think too much about it and just go out and play my game. But it’s something that’s always in the back of your head. I’ve come to the conclusion that without a lot of coaches and players behind me and supporting me that couldn’t happen.”

Davis has built important relationships through football, including the ones with his roommates’ receiver Xavier Delk, running back Montrez Jackson and safety Keidre Taylor. 

“I love those guys to death like my momma had them,” Davis said. “I can just talk to them about anything. That’s one thing about this brotherhood that I love.”

Davis is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sports management. If the NFL longshot opportunity doesn’t come calling, his dream is to become a sports agent. Until then, he’ll be focusing on finishing off his career on a high note with the Lopers.

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GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
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