In week one of the 2021 CFL season R-Nation had seen a lot of new faces. From the sidelines to both sides of the football, the Ottawa Redblacks have almost entirely changed since their last season in 2019 and they’ve changed for the better. One of the Redblacks’ biggest adjustments came on the offensive side of the ball at the receiver position where they had receivers RJ Harris, Nate Behar, Jerminic Smith, Wesley Lewis, Shannon Smith and DeVonte Dedmon returning to the capital and a long list of newcomers like Ryan Davis. Davis, a St. Petersburg, Florida native and former Auburn Tiger was one of 12 receivers to latch onto a roster spot for the 2021 CFL season and is now one of those new faces to know and remember moving forward this season.
The Redblacks’ week one battle against the Edmonton Elks ended with an Ottawa win and that is all you can ask out of the team’s first game in well over a year and a half but it was clear that there was some rust to be shaken off, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Ottawa’s offence moved the ball for a total 127 yards and kicked three field goals on offensive drives. One of those drives that ended in a field goal included three Ryan Davis catches for 27 of his 33 receiving yards against the Elks. Davis also ran the ball once for 6 yards and returned one kickoff for 22 yards along with an overturned punt return touchdown, showing glimpses of what he can do in red and black. “It was good to have some small success in week one. It was a big confidence builder and I’m definitely excited to get back on the field in Saskatchewan. I’m just getting started and I know myself and my 11 teammates on the field with me can make a lot more plays.” Davis told Jordan Zlomislic in an interview in preparation for his second game in the CFL. His time in the league comes after a long and successful career which all began in his home town of St. Petersburg, Florida. Playing little league and at Lakewood High School Ryan Davis showed a lot of versatility, having thrown for 2,140 yards and 18 touchdowns while running for 1,233 yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior year at Lakewood where he played alongside a number of NFL stars like both Shaquil and Shaquem Griffin, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Dante Fowler Jr, Rodney Adams and more. Davis also played with these players and more with Woodrow Grady’s Team Tampa 7 on 7 team. The team consisted of the best athletes in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, giving the players the opportunity to play with the best and also play against some of the best in the country, preparing for a long career ahead, like the one Davis has had at Auburn and in the pros.
When talking about the time he spent with Team Tampa and in High School in preparation for the career he is living right now in the CFL Ryan Davis said, “It was a pleasure to be able to play with all of the best players in my home town. The experience was great. I learned a lot from Coach Grady with Team Tampa and he gave me the chance to explore future opportunities and get exposure to colleges. I am super grateful for what he did for me in my early career.” The time with the two programs during high school opened up opportunities as mentioned, like the one at Auburn University where he eventually played 48 games, catching a University record 178 receptions for 1,555 yards and 7 receiving touchdowns. He also completed 3 of 4 passes for 105 yards and 3 touchdowns, ran the ball 8 times for 37 yards and returned 24 punts for 259 yards. Davis also played NFL pre-season with the New England Patriots and had a short stint with the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers prior to the opportunity he has in front himself with the Ottawa Redblacks, however he is not the only Team Tampa alumnus on the Redblacks roster. He is actually alongside former Team Tampa teammate Brad Muhammad here in Ottawa. “I knew of Brad growing up and in high school. We always crossed paths with each other but never played together until Team Tampa because he’s older than me and after Team Tampa we stayed in touch. We worked out together during off-seasons and he’s always pushed me to work harder so its cool to be able to play with him in the pros here in Ottawa.”
Muhammad is just one of many great athletes that Ryan Davis is able to play alongside with the Ottawa Redblacks, and just one game into his tenure with the team he believes “this team has a special bond.” he said, “This is one of the best teams I’ve been on, we all want to work hard for each other, especially our receiving core. We feed off of each other in practice and I know its going to transition into a lot of big plays to help us win more games.”
Davis is set to hit the field at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders for his second CFL game and as a part of the 1-0 Ottawa Redblacks he looks to bring his versatility onto the field and improve to 2-0. Regarding the game in Saskatchewan, he said with excitement, “I’m ready to hit the field again and make big plays.”
BONUS: Ryan Davis comes from the St. Petersburg, Florida area and went to Auburn University in Alabama so the opportunity with the Ottawa Redblacks marks the first football opportunity outside of his country. For many the transition to the CFL and to the country of Canada is hard to make, but Davis says it wasn’t that hard of a transition on the football field, “Football wasn’t that big of an adjustment as some people told me it may be. The biggest change was the extra running on the waggle” he said, “You can be running a 5 yard hitch from the line of scrimmage but can really be a 15 or 20 yard route because of the run up.”
Off of the football field, Davis has enjoyed the city of Ottawa. “Its much different than Florida, but I like it a lot. I like that you can just walk around the city and everyone minds their own business. You can really just be yourself here and I like that a lot. I like the views here in Ottawa, there’s a lot of nice places but what I don’t like is the spiders. There are so many insects here and there are some spiders that I never saw before which really creep me out but so far thats the only negative thing here in Ottawa so I’m liking the city and I’m looking forward to being here some more.”
Ryan Davis also went to the same high school as Toronto Blue Jays baseball player Bo Bichette and world renown rapper Rod Wave. When asked about Wave Davis had said, “Rod was rapping in the hall ways and stuff. You always heard his voice at school, he’s always had the talent and its a blessing to see someone that I knew of growing up at the top now. He’s earned it.”