by SHSU staff
It takes drive and persistence to reach the top of professional sports. That lesson is something that former Bearkat football player Keith Davis knows all about. Davis was part of the 2001 Southland Conference Champion football team, earning All-Southland honors and All-American honors as a safety for Sam Houston State University, before becoming a Dallas Cowboy from 2002 to 2008.
It has been 17 years since Davis finished his time on the football field for the Bearkats, and yet, he has tackled another obstacle. On Friday, Dec. 7, Davis will walk across the stage of the Johnson Coliseum and receive his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree from SHSU. Still a true teammate, Davis was quick to humbly give credit to others involved in his accomplishment when asked what he will be thinking while receiving his diploma.
“I will be thinking about all the people who have helped me along the way to get to this point,” Davis said. “My mother, my kids, my wife, my family, my coaches everyone who kept me determined.”
Davis took his shot at the NFL before finishing his degree, but now, that same determination that led him to be introduced into the Sam Houston State Athletic Hall of Honor in 2014, has led to him to finishing his final class.
“I always tell my kids to finish what they start,” Davis said. “So I would feel like a hypocrite if I didn’t come back and finish what I started back in 1997.”
While he has always been a proud Bearkat, Davis explained that becoming a graduate only added to his love for SHSU.
“I have always been a Bearkat through and through and claimed Sam Houston State, but now I truly feel like a part of the alumni,” Davis said.
Davis credits Associate Athletic Director Chris Thompson for keeping up with him after all these years. Davis says Thompson was constantly pushing him to complete his degree.
“She stayed with me, she always believed in me. Every time I saw her or talked to her, coach Thompson would always say ‘I have your file still sitting here on my desk, and you need to finish so I can get rid of it’,” Davis said.
That file, full of classes taken, hours passed, academic advising sessions and more, will now be handed over for good.
“I am ready to give it away as a graduation gift, complete with an orange ribbon wrapped around it.” Thompson said. “I’ve walked every step of the way with him all the way back to his recruitment to SHSU. This will be a proud moment for me. We in athletics are competitive people. We don’t like to give up. So it is no surprise that he has done what I always knew he could. I am excited to see what he can now do with this degree in his life.”
Davis explained that the walk across the stage on Friday also fulfills an important promise he made to his mother from years ago while growing up in Italy, Texas.
“I always said I was going to make it to the NFL and take care of her,” Davis said. “But she always pushed me further. She would say ‘If that is your goal that is great, but I don’t care if you make it the NFL or not baby. I really want you to graduate from college.’ So this feels even sweeter to keep that promise and go back and finish.”