NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ever since he could first write his name, Da’Norris Searcy had a Plan A.
He never had a Plan B.
Questions about his dreams and aspirations started in elementary school, and continued in middle school. In high school, those around him insisted he should explore more options when his answer never changed.
“They all asked me what I wanted to be when I was older, for my job,’’ Searcy recalled. “Career day would come along and they’d ask me what I wanted to be and I’d tell them I wanted to play in the NFL. They would always say, 'Well, you need a Plan B. What’s your Plan B?' And I’d always tell them, ‘Plan A and Plan B are the same. I plan on playing football.'"
Tracy Searcy, his mom, remembers well.
“He didn’t have a back-up plan. He never had a back-up plan,’’ she said with a smile. “I used to tell him myself he needed to have a second idea of what he wanted to do, too. But he always said he didn’t have to because he was going to play in the NFL. I guess he was right.”
Yes, Searcy was right. The safety is in his fifth NFL season, his first with the Tennessee Titans.
On Sunday at Nissan Stadium, Searcy will line up against his old team, the Buffalo Bills. Searcy spent his first four seasons in Buffalo before signing a four-year deal with the Titans during the offseason.
Searcy smiles when he thinks about his childhood dream. But he doesn’t pinch himself.
In his mind, there was never a doubt.
“I always give thanks, because I am thankful, and blessed. But I don’t pinch myself, no,’’ he said. “I’m not going to lie. I always imagined myself playing in the NFL. I never thought it wouldn’t happen.”
New Titans safety Da'Norris Searcy signs his contract at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
After playing in 62 games from 2011-14 with the Bills, the Titans signed Searcy in March, and paired him on the back end with veteran safety Michael Griffin.
In his first three games with the Titans, Searcy has made 11 tackles, which ranks him seventh on the team. The 5-foot-11, 207-pounder from Decatur, Ga., has also brought a lively spirit to the defense.
The Titans expect him to be a playmaker for years to come. Searcy tallied 191 tackles, five interceptions and four sacks in Buffalo, and he also forced three fumbles. He scored on a pick-6 in 2013.
“In evaluating the safeties that were out there (in free agency), he stood out as a guy who could do a lot of things for you – play coverage, be physical, and be very active. Just watching his tape, he was impressive,’’ coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Searcy. “We liked everything about him. And he’s been good.
“He brings intensity that brings a lot to our football team. It shows up in the weight room, in the meeting rooms, on the field. It shows up in a lot of places. He is a good team player and that helps build that chemistry.”
Searcy grew up in an athletic family, his father Donald the leader of the bunch.
Donald Searcy, a linebacker, played semi-pro football. Searcy also had uncles, and a brother who played the game. While his mother preached academics – and the back-up plan – Donald Searcy pushed his son to be as good as he could possibly be on the football field. He trained him, and instructed him.
Da’Norris Searcy put in the time. He began playing at the age of 4, and loved it. He still remembers watching Monday Night Football every week with his grandmother, Virginia, who passed away in 2002. Searcy wore the No.21 at North Carolina because of his grandmother, who was born in 1921, and he’s back in that number with the Titans after wearing No.25 in Buffalo.
When he takes the field on Sundays, he remembers his roots. Searcy has a tattoo of a cross and an angel wings to represent his grandmother and great grandmother.
“The last name on the jersey represents them,’’ Searcy said. “My dad and my uncles, I know they all dreamed about playing in the NFL. My dad, he has always been my No.1 fan. Since I’m the one who is getting a chance to do it, I try and represent them well.”
On the field, Searcy is known for his instincts, and play-making ability. With the Bills, he intercepted three passes in 2014, forced a fumble and also caused one.
His teammates with the Titans say he brings an edge.
“He is a very instinctive player,’’ cornerback Jason McCourty said. “He is not the tallest guy, but he packs a lot of power. He has that sense of swag, when he steps foot on the field he expects to make plays.’
Griffin said Searcy brings something else.
Titans Online looks at the career of new Titans safety Da'Norris Searcy, who began his first four NFL seasons with the Buffalo Bills. (AP Photos)
“Da’Norris, he’s a weird guy,’’ Griffin said with a smile. “He’s into action figures, Superheroes. He dresses the worst of anyone in practice, and even his whole thing with cars -- he is into old school American muscle cars. The music he likes, everything is different.
“But he’s a great guy, and he can play football. And he hits the weights hard. He’s a strong, strong guy. And he’s a great guy to have on the team.”
Searcy, who’s married (Kennetra) with a daughter (Kenna), said he’s enjoying Nashville, with the Titans. He misses his friends in Buffalo, but not necessarily the cold weather.
In Tennessee, he’s closer to home. Tracy Searcy is from Chattanooga, and Searcy has family in Nashville and Knoxville. He’s also not far from where his parents now live, in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Nicknamed Spiderman because he used to do flips on the playground as a kid, Searcy plans to make a mark with the Titans in the years to come.
He wants to make the most of Plan A. And Plan B.
“I had people come forward and say they didn’t think I’d make it.’’ Searcy said. “Later they came up and apologized for it, and said they were glad to see someone from my neighborhood was courageous enough to do it and it make them proud.
“I love this game. I always have loved football. Off the field I am calm and I am laid back; my wife will tell you I’m nonchalant. But on the field I am zero to 100. I’m always going to go all out and give it everything I have.”