Former Auburn DB Carlton Davis discusses how Kobe Bryant inspires his play
Entering his third NFL season, former Auburn defensive back Carlton Davis is planning a change. In tribute to Kobe Bryant, Davis is changing his Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey number from No. 33 to No. 24, Bryant’s second and last jersey number with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Though they played different sports, Davis says his approach to football is modeled off of Bryant’s approach to basketball.
“Kobe was my all-time favorite athlete ever since I was a kid,” Davis said during a recent online press conference. “I really looked up to him and the way he carried himself as an athlete, the way he approached the game. His Mamba mentality was everything to me, something I adopted from a young age and I’ve always kept it with me. I’m a huge Lakers fan because of him. And just hearing about his death was just heart-breaking. I didn’t know what to think. I just hate to even think about it because it’s just so surreal that he’s really gone. He passed away way too soon. Yeah, I definitely switched my number because of him. He’s always been a guy who I chased after as far as his greatness and what he’s accomplished, so I would like to continue to do that with his number on.”
Playing with the “Mamba mentality” has worked well for Davis. PFF credits Davis with the highest “forced incompletion percentage” among cornerbacks in 2019 at 22 percent.
Davis recorded one interception last season while his Tampa Bay teammate and fellow former Tiger Jamel Dean snagged a pair of picks. Davis said the numbers should have been even higher.
“Me and Dean got our hands on a lot of balls, and a lot of them should have been interceptions,” Davis said in the press conference. “But it’s honestly about repetitions, about being comfortable and it’s just about making the play. We’re young, we stepped into a new system and I think with that season under our belt, it just makes us a lot more comfortable to go out there and really play loose and just make the plays instead of kind of guessing and being unsure. With the productivity that me and Dean produced last year, we should improve and take our next step as far as getting those interceptions and creating more turnovers.”