Fiesta Bowl drop gave Gabriel Davis a huge spark for his career

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Bill receiver Gabriel Davis, who quietly had a stellar rookie season in Buffalo, found his motivation in Arizona, in early 2019.

A key second-half drop in the Fiesta Bowl while playing for UCF provided the spark for his future career.

“He dropped it,” Bert Whigham, a long-time Davis trainer, told Jason Wolf of the Buffalo News. “And he should have caught it. And he calls me after the game, crying. ‘What do I gotta do?’ . . . And I said, ‘You’ve got to outwork everyone.’ And he drove to Disney, where we were, from UCF. An hour each way. During peak traffic times. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for the next five months going into his junior year. And then the whole summer trained with us, too. That’s what it takes, right there. What do I got to do? You’ve got to work. And he did it.”

Davis had 35 catches for 599 yards and seven touchdowns last year, matching the scoring output from Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson. Only Stefon Diggs, with eight, had more receiving touchdowns for the Bills last year.

“Before I dropped that pass, I had caught a touchdown,” Davis told Wolf regarding the Fiesta Bowl fiasco. “When the ball was in the air, I’m like, ‘I’m about to catch this ball, it’s about to be another touchdown, I’m about to put it in these people’s face what kind of player I am.’ And I feel like instead of just focusing on the ball, I was thinking about the end goal. And I let it slip right through. I don’t even think I touched it. It slipped right through my face and between my hands.”

Davis has a new source of motivation. An ankle injury limited him in the AFC Championship, which Buffalo lost to Kansas City. He then tried to watch the Chiefs and the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl — and hated the experience.

“I couldn’t watch it,” Davis said. “My stomach was hurting too bad when I was looking at the screen. I just turned it off. I had to do something else. I tried. At this level, you’re so competitive and you hate to see yourself fall short with the amount of sacrifice and time. . . . And just to be able to get that close and not make it, it hurt all of us really bad and it was hard to watch.”

This year, they’ll try it again. The Bills have the talent to get there. Plenty of other AFC teams do, too, and despite all the effort and work and study and preparation and execution, it ultimately will come down to lucky breaks and bounces, and maybe a bad call or two. Or a good call, if your team is the one the benefits from the blunder.

For Davis, that blunder from two years ago has put him in position to be part of what the Bills are trying to do, and they’ll likely be in the conversation of elite NFL teams for years to come.

8 responses to “Fiesta Bowl drop gave Gabriel Davis a huge spark for his career

  1. “And I said, ‘You’ve got to outwork everyone.’ And he drove to Disney, where we were, from UCF. An hour each way. During peak traffic times. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for the next five months going into his junior year. And then the whole summer trained with us, too.”
    —————————–
    I wonder how much hes exaggerating when listing all the times Davis worked out because hes exaggerating here. UCF to Disney is about 30 minutes with peak traffic driving times being about 45 minutes to an hour from 7 to 8 am, around noon and from 5 to about 6:30. I dont see Davis driving to and from at 2 of those times daily. Likely he spent about an hour and 15 minutes total back and forth(which is an average commute time for most people) and didnt go anywhere close to everyday but that wasn’t going to fit the trainers narrative.

  2. Sunday Swami says:
    July 11, 2021 at 2:54 pm
    “And I said, ‘You’ve got to outwork everyone.’ And he drove to Disney, where we were, from UCF. An hour each way. During peak traffic times. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for the next five months going into his junior year. And then the whole summer trained with us, too.”
    —————————–
    I wonder how much hes exaggerating when listing all the times Davis worked out because hes exaggerating here. UCF to Disney is about 30 minutes with peak traffic driving times being about 45 minutes to an hour from 7 to 8 am, around noon and from 5 to about 6:30. I dont see Davis driving to and from at 2 of those times daily. Likely he spent about an hour and 15 minutes total back and forth(which is an average commute time for most people) and didnt go anywhere close to everyday but that wasn’t going to fit the trainers narrative.

    Traffic times? That’s what you brought?
    LOL.

    Davis will be household in 21-22…

  3. Vital life lesson here. Make a mistake, own it, learn from it and do everything you can to prevent it from happening again.

    He’ll drop more passes in his NFL career, but far less than he would had he not taken this approach. Good on you, Davis.

  4. @george1859 – yes it’s called showing that he was exaggerating on his trip which means he was likely exaggerating on how many times and how much Davis went there, it’s not hard to see a connection.
    And you’ve got to be kidding if you think household name LOL. Hes behind Diggs and Beasley and when they brought Sanders is in it capped Davis ceiling as the reports have already been the Bill’s likely wont increase Davis snap count much if at all this year so if you want to laugh I’d do it at that RIDICULOUS statement

  5. LOL…Obviously, you know Davis in your household, and in 21’ he will be the guy that everyone’s going to know about…

  6. @george1859 – I know Van Jefferson plays for the Rams, Kawaan Baker is a Saint, Sage Surratt is a Lion, Wes Phylor is a viking, Matt Bushman is a Raider, Joe Reed is a lac and I could go on and on but my knowledge compared to your lack of doesnt make him a household name, try knowing what your buzz words mean before using them

  7. The numbers show that Davis had the Bills’ best rookie WR season since Sammy Watkins. And Davis was a 4th round pick. Sammy was drafted 4th overall in his draft.

  8. Davis does a lot of charity work for kids in Orlando. Does hands on work with kids who have had limbs amputated and helps pay for their prosthetic limbs. Davis is a nice guy and a hell of a player.

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