BIRMINGHAM — The addition of Davion Davis didn't move the needle as much, especially locally, as some other receiver additions for the Birmingham Stallions during the offseason.

A pair of former UAB Blazers in Austin Watkins and Myron Mitchell joined the roster. Deon Cain, a national championship wide receiver at Clemson, came on board. Jace Sternberger, a former All-America tight end at Texas A&M, was added to the mix.

Davis, despite his own prior success at Sam Houston State, was frankly a bit overlooked.

"It's how I've been all my life, really," said Davis before Thursday's practice in preparation for Saturday's USFL South Division game against the visiting Houston Gamblers. "People might not know me, but when they're able to see what I do, they're like, 'This kid can actually play."

Through four games, Davis is the Stallions' leader in receptions (19) and receiving yards (268), and he's tied with Sternberger for the lead with three receiving touchdowns.

Yep, as it turns out, this 26-year-old kid from Hutto, Texas can actually play.

The truth is, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Davis has been able to play at every level. It began at Hutto High, where he was a Friday Night hero after catching 73 catches for 1,259 yards with 18 touchdowns as a senior in 2015 for one of the top teams in school history.

He had recruiting interest from New Mexico, New Mexico State, Iowa State, and most of the teams in the FCS Southland Conference. Texas Tech told him his 40-yard dash time was too slow. Iowa State took another receiver over him. He chose Sam Houston State.

The first game of his freshman season came at Texas Tech, the program that thought he was too slow. He had 12 catches for 103 yards with a touchdown in a 59-45 loss to the Patrick Mahomes-led Red Raiders.

"After that, I went over there and was like, 'Y'all missed out,'" Davis said.

That was just the start of a tremendous career in the high-octane offense. In four seasons, he had 226 catches for 3,181 yards with 40 touchdowns. As a junior, he was the Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year and an All-America selection.

He thought he might get drafted in the final round of the 2019 NFL Draft but ended up signing a free-agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings. He split time between the practice squad and the active roster. He spent parts of the next three seasons with the Vikings, Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans.

"It was crazy, honestly," Davis said. "Of course, everybody is going to be about the money difference thing (between the NFL and other leagues). It wasn't really about that for me. It was about having the experience and being able to tell my kids how lucky I was to play the game and be around top-tier athletes. That's what really sticks with me. I don't care about the money, I don't care about the fame, it's just about being able to do what I love every day."

He started this season with the XFL but asked for his release from the Houston Roughnecks after three weeks.

"I wasn't being used properly," Davis said. "I played in three games and didn't get a single snap on offense. I'm not trying to be cocky or anything, but I knew I was one of the better receivers on the team. I knew what I was capable of and wasn't able to get the ball."

He was signed by the Stallions, and head coach Skip Holtz was impressed quickly.

"The thing with Davion, he's so smart," Holtz said. "He's got such great football savvy and feel. It was almost like an immediate connection with the quarterbacks and him because he's always where he's supposed to be. He's gonna find the window; he's running the routes the proper depth. He just does a lot of the little things the right way. I've really been impressed with him and what he does."

When the season began, Holtz and the offensive staff targeted returning standout Marlon Williams as the top receiver for the Stallions. They had to scramble for a new go-to guy after Williams suffered an Achilles heel injury in the opening game. Davis became that guy, even though he hated the circumstances.

"I just go out and play," Davis said. "I hate what happened to Marlo because the kid has game. I know he loves it. I wouldn't wish that upon my worst enemy, man. That's my brother at the end of the day. He helped me learn this offense. Without him, it sucks, but we got to rally as a team."

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