Vernon Davis is ready for his breakout game in a Denver Broncos uniform.
And it couldn’t come at a better time.
It’s an opportunity Davis has waited for all season, anxious to prove that the trade was not a misstep by Denver, but rather an investment in a future Super Bowl title. After all, it’s difficult to ignore that impressive stats that have painted Davis as one of the most talented tight ends in the league.
Here’s everything you need to know about the long-time NFL star:
1. Davis Was a Letterman in Football, Basketball & Track During High School
As with most NFL athletes, Davis was a multi-sport standout during high school, playing football and basketball and competing on the track and field team at Dunbar High in Washington.
Over the course of his high school career, Davis played tight and safety, but also lined up at wide receiver, kick returner, linebacker and defensive end. In his senior season he caught 21 passes for 511 yards and five touchdowns, despite missing three games with a bone bruise.
Davis was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as a senior, was named second-team all-USA by USA Today and was ranked as the fourth-best tight end in the nation and the seventh-best player (overall) in the Atlantic East by Rivals.com. He was also named the Gatorade Player of the Year in the District of Columbia.
2. He Developed a Strong Interest in Strength Training While at College
Davis played his college football at Maryland, where his impact on the field was almost immediate. In 2003, he played in all 13 games and his numbers only improved throughout his career.
As a junior, Davis was an All-American and All-ACC first-team selection and was also a finalist for the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end. He started every game, leading the team with 51 receptions and the conference with 871 receiving yards.
In addition to his on-field statistics, Davis was also heavily involved in strength training in college. He set school records for a tight end in the bench press (480 pounds), power-clean (380 pounds), index (824 pounds) and squat (685 pounds). That interest in strength and fitness hasn’t changed since Davis left college. He told Muscle and Fitness:
What really works is doing resistance work, with another guy behind me holding a rope tied around my waist. During the season, I lift heavy. I might go up to 435 pounds. I love the bench, it’s always been one of my favorite lifts for strengthening my core.
In fact, Davis’ interest has even sparked some off-the-field ventures. He owns and operates a Jamba Juice in Santa Clara, California. His favorite smoothie? Peach Pleasure.
3. Davis Has Been Dating Janel Horne Since High School
Davis has been linked to Janel Horne for years and the pair have built an entire life together. In fact, Horne was with Davis when he was first drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2006. She’s been there for years. Horne and Davis first started dating while they were both students at Dunbar High in Washington, D.C. and have been each other’s biggest source of support ever since. Horne told Sports Illustrated:
He said he wanted to go to a D-I school. He said he wanted to go to the NFL. he said he wanted to be drafted top 10. He sets a goal for himself, and he gets it done. He just might not get it done in the time he wants to get it done.
After Davis found success in the NFL, he and Horne started their lives together, building a home on the southern edge of San Jose and raising their three children, including son Jianni and daughter Valleigh.
The long-term relationship hasn’t just inspired Davis to succeed on the field. An avid painter, Davis has actually painted Horne as well. It hangs near the family’s front door.
4. He Was Traded to the Broncos in November 2015
The Denver Broncos made waves during the regular season when they announced that they had acquired Davis in a midyear trade with the San Francisco 49ers. It was the first time Davis, who was drafted in 2006, had played for any other team besides the 49ers.
The move came after rumors had swirled about Davis’ future for several weeks, particularly with the end of his career coming soon. It made the move all the more appealing for the Broncos and general manager John Elway. Davis told KKFN that he was excited about the new start:
All I could think about was Peyton Manning. That’s all I could think about. Not knocking any of the quarterbacks that I’ve had in the previous years — Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, those guys. Those guys were amazing, those guys were awesome, but there’s just something about Peyton Manning. I’ve always been a fan of his.
The Broncos sent sixth-round picks to San Francisco in 2016 and 2017 as part of the trade and Denver will receiver the 49ers seventh-rounder in 2016. Over all, the move allowed San Francisco to clear the remaining $2.33 million on Davis’ deal.
Coming into Denver, Davis had racked up 194 yards with San Francisco.
5. Davis’ Brother, Michael, Was Charged With Murder in 2012
Davis regularly makes headlines for his on-field exploits, but, in 2012, his family was in the news for less-than-ideal reasons. In May of that year, his younger brother, Michael, was charged in the murder of a Denver area man.
Michael Davis, who was 19 at the time, reportedly killed Gary Dederichs, 66, and was also charged with two counts of assault with intent to kill while armed. He allegedly snuck up on Dederichs in his neighborhood and hit him on the head with a hammer.
Vernon Davis talked about the situation, telling the Bay Area News Group:
It’s pretty frustrating, it’s stressful. But at the end of the day, I’m my own man, regardless of what my little brother does or what he did. It’s him. He’s got to live with that. I don’t have to live with that. It broke my heart. But I had to keep going. I had to pick my head up and just keep on walking. Can’t let that affect me.
Prior to the murder charge, Davis was previously held for a psychiatric evaluation after his teachers and guardian became fearful of his behavior, per documents filed in D.C. superior court.
Davis was declared incompetent to stand trial by D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Morinn.