BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – Experts who claim that infants are usually a year old before taking their first steps couldn’t have known the amazing Davis babies, Carlos and Khalil.
A full three months before their first birthday, these fun-loving, high-energy twins were not only walking, they were running. But they didn’t stop there. A couple of years later as pre-schoolers, they started doing backflips without a moving start – breaking not one bed, but three.
“There’s so much stuff that’s broken around this house, it’s ridiculous,” Tracy Davis, their tough-but-doting mama, says with a grin.
By the time they got to high school, Carlos and Khalil had gained height, weight and notoriety as nationally ranked track athletes as well as nearly unstoppable defensive linemen.
But it’s not just their size and strength that set these identical twins apart. Big, strong kids abound, after all. It’s their astounding blend of size, strength, gracefulness and speed. There’s also a fierce combative fire that flames up like a prairie fire the second the competition begins, then vanishes the second it’s over.
When they’re not competing, these Nebraska-bound brothers — they are planning to compete on the football and track teams — are just smiling, easygoing kids. Happy, polite, softspoken and playful. Many times they’ve fooled teachers by pretending to be each other, or filled teammates’ shoes with shaving cream.
People just naturally seem to like Carlos and Khalil. Walk with them down the halls of predominantly white Blue Springs High School and you’re soon engulfed by boys and girls, athletes and non-athletes, all happy to be around them. Teachers call out their name.
“I think they’re the most popular kids in this school,” said track coach Joe Cusack.
But then when the game starts, some mysterious gene deep in their psyche flips on.
“It’s like a switch,” said Carlos. “I don’t know how we got like that. We get in game mode and we’re different people.”
As juniors, they combined for 42 tackles for loss and helped propel Blue Springs to a second consecutive Missouri Class 6 championship. While Khalil sat out a couple of games with a knee strain their senior season, the numbers and victories dipped a bit. But Carlos added to the family’s considerable collection of trophies and honors with the Buck Buchanan Award as No. 1 defensive lineman in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
“More than once, I’ve seen somebody complete a screen pass and one of the Davis twins run them down from behind 20 or 30 yards beyond the line of scrimmage,” said Kelly Donohoe, Blue Springs’ highly successful head coach. “Big guys aren’t supposed to run that fast. They just aren’t.”
Donohoe figures that by the time Carlos and Khalil are college juniors, they’ll be around 6-3 and play between 290 and 300 pounds.
“I think they can be great college players,” he said.
Heading to Lincoln
Nebraska fans should probably send Lorenzo Hicks a dozen roses, or at least a heartfelt thanks. The twins’ uncle played cornerback for the Huskers in the 1980s and turned them into lifelong fans. They gave then-coach Bo Pelini an early commitment, but when Pelini was fired, they decommitted. This drew quick entreaties from a number of hopeful coaches, including Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel. But Pelini’s successor, Mike Riley, hurried in to save the day.
So valuable were the twins, Riley’s entire defensive staff trekked to the Davis household.
“What a great family,” said Riley.
Getting together with the Davis family was one of the first things he did.
“I went immediately to Missouri and reaffirmed our commitment,” said Riley. “We loved them on film and loved everything about them. Their mom made no bones about it at that first meeting. She had her questions ready. She had her concerns right out there on her sleeve. It was a mother making sure this was the right thing for her boys.”
Shortly afterward, the affable brothers known to Blue Springs fans as the “Twin Terrors” were officially Cornhuskers.
“It’s very exciting,” said Khalil.
Adds Carlos, “It’s overwhelming at times. I think we have a chance to go in and play. I think we can have an immediate impact on the team.”
Their new coach has promised to let the twins continue in track, another sport that brought scholarship offers.
In a meet in mid-April, Carlos recorded a discus throw of 214 feet, four inches, the second straight year he had the best throw in the nation. Had it come in the state meet, it would have been the Missouri high school record. Carlos was named to the American Family Insurance ALL-USA preseason boys track and field team.
Khalil’s discus throw that day was “only” in the 190-foot range, good enough to win 10 of the last 11 Missouri championships. But later, in his specialty, Khalil set a meet record and a personal best of 62-3 in the shot put.
They admitted later that this meet was personal. With mounting bills, Carl Davis took a second job this year as a security guard, which had caused him to miss the boys’ track meets. Until this day.
“We know how hard our dad works,” said Carlos. “It meant a lot having him there. We wanted to put on a show for him.”
The closeness of the family is actually something else that sets these two apart.
“They were raised with a lot of love, and a lot of discipline,” said Tracy. “Kids want discipline. They just don’t always think they do. When they got to high school, Carlos and Khalil were shocked to find out that all families do not eat dinner together, as a family. But that was something their father and I always insisted upon.”
After giving birth to daughters Monique and Cymone, the Davises inquired about adopting a son. Soon they got a call from the Missouri State Adoption Agency with the exciting news that a nine-month-old was available.
“Then they said, `But there’s a catch. There are two,”’ Tracy recalled. “I said, `Two? Can’t we get just one?”’
Could they see the boys, possibly to decide which to take?
A case worker brought the rambunctious twosome to the house. Carl and Tracy looked at the happy babes laughing and running all through the house. Next, they looked at each other.
“We fell in love,” said Carl.
“It was love at first sight,” said Tracy. “We had to have them both.”
With the size of their brood suddenly doubling, something else they had to have was a bigger house and a bigger vehicle. But the same rules that applied to Monique and Cymone would be in force. Chores had to get done. They would be well mannered. Misbehavior, such as broken furniture and holes knocked in the walls by playing football indoors would be punished.
There was a lot of that. Nothing was ever torn up on purpose. But brimming with energy and always ready to roughhouse, the lads were like bulls in their own China shop. The time Tracy found her favorite crystal lamp in pieces on the floor was a dark day, indeed for two future footballs stars.
But above all, absolutely and positively grades must be kept up.
“We taught our children that average people don’t get noticed,” said Tracy. “Only extraordinary people get noticed.”
A’s are preferable. B’s will be accepted.
“If those boys bring home a C, mama Tracy is on them like a cat on a June bug,” said Donohoe.
It worked for the girls. Both earned their masters degrees and have good jobs. And so far, it’s working for the boys.
“We always pushed them to excel,” said Tracy.
There must be times the lads wish they were not living in the computer age. Parents can go online at Blue Springs and see every grade of every paper and home work assignment.
“I’m on that website two or three times a day,” said Tracy.
Recently when someone asked Khalil for his cell phone number, he sheepishly replied, “My dad took my phone.”
He’d had a C on a homework assignment. But as soon as the grade came up, the phone came back.
“I knew how I wanted to raise my family and so did my husband,” said Tracy. “Our vision was the same. They’re still kids. They’re still in need of guidance like any kids. And they still do stuff they shouldn’t do.”
The twins are old enough to appreciate how much mom and dad have sacrificed.
“They will do anything to get us where we need to be,” said Khalil.
Grounded by a loving, stable home and blessed with rare talent, a future of unlimited promise appears to stretch out ahead for Carlos and Khalil.
“I don’t know much about their biological side,” said Tracy. “Just what the adoption agent said. That it was totally dysfunctional. They liked guns and they liked drugs. Sometimes when I think what might have happened to my boys if the Lord hadn’t guided them to us…” her voice trailed off and she paused before completing the thought.
“I just get tears in my eyes.”