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A year ago, linebacker Dyshawn Davis was the first person in his family to graduate college, just another milestone -- after the numerous football trophies and awards -- that has given his family from Camden, N.J., immense pride.
Davis, 6-foot-2, 227 pounds, finished his senior season with career highs in tackles (71) and forced fumbles (3) and became one of the Orange's best defensive playmakers. His next step comes with the Redskins.
"Syracuse gives me an opportunity to see how far I can go in my life," Davis said last season at school. "It truly is a blessing sitting in the bed and thinking about how far I came. It's humbling.
"There are a lot of people in my town that definitely had a lot more potential than I did, through football, any aspect of life, and they didn't take the opportunity to find a way out. Just looking back at that only motivates me to push myself even further."
Growing up in a difficult neighborhood, where few find a way out, Davis is blessed but continually motivated to follow his dream playing football.
He was raised by his great-grandparents and his mother signed him up for Karate and other sports to keep her son off the streets, where other family members had ended up hurting themselves.
"A lot of people in my family live life just day-by-day. They wake up, whatever, they have no schedule, they go through the motions," Davis told Syracuse.com. "That's fine with me. They're still my family, and some people's lives are like that. I just wanted to give my grand pop something to be proud of and show him the Davis family is not all about getting locked up or being a bad person."
The positive that he takes from his hometown is the way it's affected his mentality on the field and the style of play he brings to every down.
"I think kind of my play on the field reflects on Camden, just my attitude, how I'm not scared of nothing," Davis said. "I just have a dog mentality just to go get it, be aggressive. That's kind of what the city resembles. It's an aggressive, hard-style, dog mentality. Win, lose or draw, I'm just going to fire off that ball and try to knock someone out."