Brothers Titus and Corey Davis have made it look easy on the football field this season.
Corey, the younger of the two, has broken the freshman record at Western Michigan in receiving yards with 873 and Titus, a junior at Central Michigan, is now tied for second in CMU history in career touchdown receptions with Antonio Brown at 22.
But the trek hasn’t been easy.
Their childhood was so adverse that Titus said it is what brings them to the position they will be in, at Waldo Stadium on Saturday as their teams face off with the brothers leading the way.
“We didn’t have the things others had when they were growing up,” Titus said. “We had to go and get things on our own. That’s what makes us so unique and that’s why we are here now.”
They knew they were not living a life many others were living when they were children, though they did have bunk beds to sleep in and a townhouse to call home.
The lives they lived, Titus said, included video game systems that were played for a week and then returned, or money that dissolved through drug use by their parents, who had unsteady jobs at times.
“Very rarely would we get new clothes,” Titus said. “For the most part, they were hand-me-downs.”
Even a memory of a time he did get a new outfit during what might have been Christmas, he said, when he was about 7-years-old was unsavory.
“I just remember my mom taking that away and she took it with her to a drug dealer to try to sell it for drugs and I just remember crying,” he said. “I remember him turning it down because he obviously saw how much that it affected me.”
Their father, Olasheni Timson, denied family drug use, though he admitted to hard times.
“We had plenty of struggles, but we made do,” Timson said. “That’s what makes a person.”
The brothers persevered with Titus guiding them in the right direction.
“He was always just right across in the other room,” Corey said. “So knowing he was always going to be there for me, and he always was there for me, was a great feeling and I’m truly blessed to have him as a brother.”
Corey, the shy brother, remembered a moment Titus was there when he was in a dark place, struggling with academics and nursing an injury in the spring of his junior year.
“I just went into a shell and went into a hole. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone,” Corey said. “The only person that I really wanted to talk to was my brother. I know he was always going to be there. We have that connection that I feel like I have with no one else in my family and none of my friends.”
Titus knew something was amiss when he was talking to him on the phone, Corey said. Titus told him he needed to get himself in order.
“He just talked me through it and let me know everything was going to be OK,” Corey said. “He talked to me about my academics and let me know that school comes first.”
Academics was another thing that did not come easy for the brothers.
Where they found help was a likely source – the families of their former pee wee coaches, with whom they spent time with throughout their lives.
The Halls, who Titus lived with in his last year and a half of high school, knew he needed to get on the right course quickly and the Grahams, who Corey lived with the last two years of high school, felt the same way about Corey.
“(Corey) had a choice in his life,” Dan Graham said. “Whether he was going to be one of those statistics that didn’t make it or he was going to take control and do everything he could to give himself an opportunity to play in college.”
Joe Hall said he and his wife, Triva, provided structure more than anything, while Titus did the work, taking classes for ACTs and seeing tutors.
“By the time my wife really took over and got involved with his counselor and whatnot, it was going into his junior year,” Joe said. “He had to get a lot of work done in order to be eligible for the NCAA.”
Joe would be the last to tell someone Titus could not overcome academics because of his past.
“He’s very mature for his age. He grew up a lot quicker than most kids,” Joe said. “You think about what he had to overcome to get to where he’s at academically; it was a real challenge for him.”
Once things started to fall in line academically, the brothers had to work to reach a level in skill that would entice a school to offer them an athletic scholarship.
Their head football coach at Wheaton Warrenville South High School, Ron Muhitch, said it took until close to the finish line to reach that level, at the start of their senior years.
“They were what I would call late bloomers,” Muhitch said. “They (mentally) got it and physically got it, if you will, a little late in their high school career with their physical growth and maturation.”
Then they blossomed.
Muhitch said he called a post pattern to Titus for the first play of six of their 14 games in his senior season and all resulted in touchdowns. Corey also had success with a physical frame bigger than Titus.
After all was said and done, the decision for Titus was the Chippewas and, two years later, Corey chose the Broncos.
This weekend, the Halls, Grahams and Titus and Corey’s parents said they will make the trek to watch the duo at Waldo Stadium where overcoming their troubled childhoods, academic struggles and fight for recognition will come full circle.
“Just looking at both of our pasts to where we our now, that’s definitely going to complete it,” Titus said.