Davin Bellamy made his first impression loud and clear on Opening Weekend in the new United States Football League.
The New Orleans Breakers defensive end lined up on the first play from scrimmage last Sunday against the Philadelphia Stars, then sacked Stars quarterback Bryan Scott.
As he spun Scott to the ground, Scott’s helmet flew off and skittered along the turf. Bellamy walked away with a purpose. The tone was set.
“It was a freebie,” Bellamy said earlier this week to NBC Sports. “But the best thing about that – it was the preparation through the week. We knew once we got that look (from the Stars offense) to just come screaming off the edge and that’s what I did and kind of let things fall where they may.
“You’re never upset about the freebies, so I think it was a good momentum swing for the defense and also kind of demoralized their first drive.”
Bellamy posted two more sacks in the Breakers’ 23-17 win. He was later voted USFL Defensive Player of the Week by fans on social media.
But it wasn’t just him taking the shine off the Stars. It was the Breakers defense as a whole.
Scott was sacked six times in all and suffered a 37-yard pick six at the hands of linebacker Vontae Diggs. The defense also made a goal-to-go stand against the Stars on the ensuing drive after Diggs’ big play.
The Breakers special teams got in on the fun, too. Wide receiver Chad Williams blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety. Williams was later voted USFL Special Teams Player of the Week, giving the Breakers two of the three Player of the Week awards from Week 1 (Birmingham Stallions quarterback J’Mar Smith was voted Offensive Player of the Week).
- When: Sunday, April 24 at 3:00 p.m. ET
- Where: Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama
- TV and Live Stream: NBC and Peacock
The feeling was, as Bellamy put it, “contagious.”
He knows that feeling well. During his college career at Georgia, he contributed to some of the best defenses in the nation, including a top-10 defense during the Bulldogs’ run to the 2017 CFP National Championship game.
He looks to help make the Breakers defense an elite unit, too.
“I’m a firm believer that nothing just happens on Sunday,” he said. “Everything happens through preparation. What everybody saw (last) Sunday is kind of what we’ve been gearing up to through the camp and everything, just demanding a lot out of each other.
“You never reach perfection, but you always strive for it, and that’s kind of what this defense has been doing through the three weeks of camp. (Last) Sunday was just trusting your training out there.”
This Sunday on NBC and Peacock, the Breakers face the Tampa Bay Bandits, whose defense posted three sacks and 12 tackles for loss in a 17-3 win Monday night against the Pittsburgh Maulers.
As part of that prime defensive matchup, Bellamy will get after Bandits QB Jordan Ta’amu, who was a teammate of his when he was on the Houston Texans’ practice squad in the NFL. (Bellamy has spent time with five NFL teams but he spent the most time in Houston, where he had a two-year run over 2018 and 2019 plus another in 2020).
“(Ta’amu is) a great player,” Bellamy said. “He’s dynamic with his arm and he’s also dynamic with his legs and also, he’s a great leader. I know about the (defensive coordinator) over there, Pepper Johnson, who coached with Bill Belichick and played with (Lawrence Taylor), so you know that defense is gonna be locked and ready to go. And especially with a leader like Jordan at the top, they’re gonna come out and give us a really good game.”
talent was never the issue, opportunity was!
— DB (@DavinBellamy17) April 18, 2022
For Bellamy, the USFL is a chance to show NFL teams he’s matured from his time after graduating from Georgia and can be a plug-and-play pass rusher.
It’s also the next step in a football career that began when he was five years old and already big enough that he had to play up in weight class.
Looking back, Bellamy believes playing up prepared him to be a physical, fearless player. There was a time, however, when a 10-year old Bellamy wanted to quit football.
His mother, Bridget, who raised him on her own and teaches at the same high school he’d later attend (Chamblee Charter HS, Chamblee, Ga.), had none of it. She signed him up for football anyway.
“That’s the best decision someone ever did for me,” said Bellamy, who believes his mother’s efforts to raise him puts his own life in proper perspective.
“We’ve been through a lot – evictions, cooking dinners on a hot plate because you have no electricity, walking to hotels,” Bellamy recalled. “To see how she kept on going through real-life situations, that makes it easy to understand that even though this football thing can take you through ups and downs, it’s just a game.
“To watch how she balanced all that helps me in my day-to-day, going through this. If she can go through raising an African-American male son on the east side of Atlanta with no help, working two jobs, getting evicted left and right, then this football journey’s easy. So, I definitely have learned a lot from her.”
Under Bridget’s watchful eye and with her constant support, Davin became a two-sport athlete in football and basketball.
When he got to Chamblee Charter, it looked like basketball could take precedence. But one day in his junior year, a coach on the football team, Rosaria Rice, caught up with him after a great game on the court.
“He’s the one that was like, ‘I know you’re doing your thing in basketball, but you’re six-five, 225 (lbs.),'” Bellamy said. “And he said, ‘There’s a kid in South Carolina right now that’s about your size’ – and at the time, he was talking about Jadeveon Clowney. He said, ‘He’s gonna make a lot of money and I could see you doing the same thing. But you’ve gotta be six-eight, six-nine to go to the NBA.’
“And from that point on, he kind of took it upon himself to create me a football highlight tape, pack me in his car, and we’d gas up the Monte Carlo and we’d start taking visits.”
Football became the path for Bellamy.
Since then, it’s taken him to an SEC championship and a Rose Bowl victory – both coming in the 2017 season, the latter coming with headlines when he told Baker Mayfield to “humble yourself” after Bellamy’s Bulldogs beat Mayfield’s Oklahoma Sooners.
And while his pro career hasn’t seen him play an NFL regular season game yet, he’s gained “priceless” knowledge and tricks of the trade from decorated players like J.J. Watt, Carlos Dunlap and even the aforementioned Clowney.
Now, he comes to the USFL, older, wiser, and ready to put himself on the map – and knowing the best way to do it.
“Essentially, man, it’s trying to find that fine line of doing what you have to do to better yourself and your career,” he explained, “but also understanding that we’re all on that mission to win.”
First and 10 with Davin Bellamy
10 quick questions to get to know the new talent of the USFL
Do you have a pre-game ritual?
“I like to work out about an hour or two hours before the game. I go to workout, do a little lower body, do a little pump, do a little activation. But this is gonna sound very cliché, my whole thing is you practice how you play. And I tend to like to practice really hard. I try to make practice harder than the game. So I kinda have the same routine that I have before practice. I wake up in the morning. If the game’s at 1, I grab a cup of coffee, eat, go work out and then go play the game basically.”
Do you have a post-game ritual?
“It’s immediate recovery. That’s the most important recovery, within the first 30 minutes. Immediately, before I do anything, I jump into the cold tub. The first 24 hours after a game, it’s strictly (the cold tub), and then the next 48, we’ll go towards the hot. But right after the game, I’m shooting toward the cold tub. That’s immediately what I do. The first 20 minutes are so important for inflammation.”
Favorite football player?
“If you had asked me this question 15 years ago, I would’ve just mentioned anybody. … But I’m gonna do a blast from the past. I’m gonna go with Aldon Smith. That’s somebody I’ve modeled my game around. So I’m gonna go with Aldon Smith, even though he’s not in the league currently.”
“My favorite movie may be… I’m gonna go ‘American Gangster’ with Denzel Washington.”
Favorite vacation spot?
“I’m gonna go with L.A.”
“I love me some good, seasoned salmon.”
Most famous person you’ve met outside of football?
“In college, me and Migos got pretty close. At the time, when I was like 21, I was like, in awe – I was like ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening.’ … That was a big deal.”
How would your family and friends describe you as a person?
“Very goal-oriented. I’m a jokester. Very serious. Perfectionist… But if you pretty much ask anybody, they’ll probably say, ‘He’s about his business. He’s funny, but he’s about his business.’ That’s basically it. I’m very goal-oriented, very mission-oriented. I don’t let things deter me from what I’ve got going on.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why?
“I expect people to be as genuine as I am. Like, you know how, if you have a big heart, you expect people to do the same? So, it’s kinda like a trick question, because I don’t wanna change that. But I’ve ended up getting the short end of the stick a lot. So, if I could change something, it would be just to, I guess – I don’t know, it’s kind of a trick question – not be so trusting.”
Name one thing about yourself that not everybody knows about you.
“No one knows that I played the saxophone from fifth to eighth grade, and the only reason I stopped was because of football. … I don’t (practice nowadays) but I really do miss it. I just don’t have the time, especially the last six, seven months of my life, which have been so chaotic – dealing with injuries, different teams and just trying to get back to where I’m trying to get to. I’ve been focused on my ultimate goal. Nothing else has really mattered. But when it’s time to breathe and exhale and the mission’s complete, I’m definitely gonna pick the saxophone back up.”
- When: Sunday, Apr. 24 – 3 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock
- Where: Protective Stadium – Birmingham, Alabama
- Live Stream: Peacock