Tom Davis, an All-America center as a senior at Nebraska in 1977, died Tuesday at an assisted living facility in Denver, according to several sources. He was 63.
A graduate of Omaha North High School, Davis helped block in 1977 for running back I.M. Hipp, a second-team All-American who rushed for 1,352 yards and averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
"Tom was a big and tough guy," said former Nebraska teammate Tony Davis (no relation). "There was no mistake about what kind of person you were dealing with when you dealt with him. But if you were his friend, forget it, you had his loyalty forever. One of those kind of guys."
Tony Davis was a senior fullback in 1975 when Tom Davis was a sophomore backup behind senior Rik Bonness, a two-time All-American from Bellevue. Tom Davis took over the starting role in 1976.
"Tom was smart, very aggressive, good athlete," said former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne, whose 1976 and 1977 teams were 9-3-1 and 9-3, respectively.
Davis led an offensive line that helped Nebraska average 302.5 rushing yards in 1977. As a junior in 1976, he earned honorable mention All-Big Eight honors as he helped protect first-team All-America quarterback Vince Ferragamo. The Huskers averaged 219.8 rushing yards per game in ’76 with a season-best 449 — including 211 by I-back Rick Berns — in a 68-3 victory over Hawaii.
Davis lettered in football, basketball and wrestling at Omaha North and earned all-state football honors. He starred on the Nebraska freshman team in 1973 and redshirted in 1974 before seeing playing time as a backup in 1975.
The NFL's Oakland Raiders drafted him in the sixth round in 1978. He later was a team captain for the Denver Gold of the USFL.