DRAFT DAY: Davis awaits 'dream' of hearing name called at NFL draft

Apr. 24—The 2024 NFL Draft is set in Detroit, Michigan, at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza and Day 1 begins on Thursday. Former Joplin Eagle Isaiah Davis will be waiting for his name to be called from Kansas City, Missouri, as he and about 75-100 friends and family will be gathered at a bowling alley.

If his name is called on Day 3 — or the first two days — it will be the first time a graduate of Joplin High School was drafted into the NFL.

"When people ask about that I tell them, 'It's like a Saturday when you play at 9 p.m. at night and you're waiting all day to play,'" Davis said. "To be honest, I don't know how I'm going to react. Because with all the achievements and things I've done in the past, it hasn't really hit me until (later).

"Obviously there's a lot of emotions with that. It's been my dream since I was a little kid. I feel like a lot of people don't get to live out the dream they've had since they were a little kid. For me to be able to do that, I'm truly blessed. I thank God this is the path that he set for me."

Other names from Joplin to eventually sign with an NFL team are Mike Loyd, who played five games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980; Notie Pate, who got an opportunity to try out for the Dallas Cowboys; and Andrew Lewis, who signed a free agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. But none of those names were called on draft day.

Davis is thankful for the people he's had in his life that he says helped him get to this point to be able to potentially live out that dream.

"Thank you to Joplin for the constant support wherever I'm going and wherever I've gone," he said. "Joplin, thank you and I love you. I can't do this alone and hopefully we can get this train rolling."

A big part of that is his family support starting with his parents.

"They constantly just tell me how proud they are of me and how I got to where I am today," Davis said. "I don't know. I love to hear the love from my parents and friends but I don't like to hear it all the time just because you can get complacent. ... I'm appreciative of my family and friends and how they supported me and helped me get where I am today."

The standout running back started as an Eagle and ran for nearly 4,000 yards in his junior and senior seasons combined. He totaled 4,353 for his entire prep career. He scored 76 rushing touchdowns as well.

Davis said he wanted to thank his coaching staff at Joplin High School for the freedom and flexibility he was given to really get all the reps he could in multiple areas. He talked about getting to work as a kick returner as well as a running back.

Along with head coach Curtis Jasper, Davis mentioned a former assistant at JHS in Brandon Taute and current assistant in Nick Reid.

"I got an opportunity early as a freshman to get some varsity time and that helped me in my growth," Davis said. "I thank the coaches for believing in me and always holding me accountable and pushing me to my limits."

From there he went on to South Dakota State and became a Jackrabbit. He collected more than 3,000 yards in his final two seasons at SDSU and tallied 4,548 total across his four seasons. He ran for 50 scores and caught one. His best season was this past one, where he ran for 1,578 yards and 18 touchdowns — both career highs.

"The biggest thing is they gave me an opportunity," Davis said of SDSU. "Coming out of high school I only had two offers. For them to welcome me with open arms and bring me into the brotherhood is something special."

Davis won two FCS national championships as a Jackrabbit. He played under longtime SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier for three years and then Jimmy Rogers for one. He said they helped him grow, as well as watching former teammate Pierre Strong Jr., who is now in the NFL and was drafted in the fourth round by the New England Patriots in 2022

"I knew where he (Strong) was headed so I tried to watch him and learn from him and the way he does things and the pro style," Davis said. "There's so many people I can thank. I'm forever blessed with the relationships I made at SDSU."