Rookie QB faces big transition
BY STU DURANDO
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Austin Davis was working out with a local idol of some repute in Hattiesburg, Miss., hoping for an opportunity in the NFL, when he agreed to a free agent contract with the Rams. At that point, his new friend became an even greater source of information.
Count on Brett Favre to always be willing to help out a fellow Southern Mississippi quarterback.
After Davis broke most of Favre's school passing records, the future Hall of Famer began working with him, focusing on the skills necessary in the NFL. It didn't hurt that Favre had worked with Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer with the New York Jets in 2008.
"Just to have the opportunity to meet him and for him to almost mentor me after the season was a huge plus," Davis said. "He lives there, so the connection just kind of happened. The biggest thing is that he was with coach Schottenheimer, so he knew the system and helped me out with that as soon as I figured out I was coming (to St. Louis)."
The native of Meridian, Miss., made his first appearance at Rams Park last week at the team's rookie minicamp. And if coach Jeff Fisher decides to keep three quarterbacks, Davis could find himself with a roster spot.
Despite numbers that were better than Favre's and a build (6-feet-2, 221 pounds) that is nearly identical, no one is mistaking him for an NFL difference maker just yet.
Davis played in a spread offense and rarely took a snap under center in college, so he's the first to admit that he has a significant adjustment to make in coming months. He worked on his footwork with Favre. He concentrated heavily on taking center snaps, saying he could count on one hand the number of times he did so in college.
"Southern Miss was a spread and they tend to be a little simpler offenses," Davis said. "There's going to be a big learning curve. There weren't nearly as many reads and not near as much footwork and protection adjustments. Those are things we all have to get better at and get used to."
When he says "we," he is referring to the number of quarterbacks who will be making similar adjustments. Some of those players were taken in the draft. Projected as a possible late-round pick, Davis watched the entire draft but never heard his name.
Davis did all he could as a four-year starter to make a case. He threw for 10,892 yards and 83 touchdowns with 27 interceptions. He ran for 1,375 yards and 25 TDs. He even had one TD catch.
Like Favre, he wasn't widely pursued coming out of high school. Favre, on the other hand, was a second-round draft choice. So, Davis faces an uphill battle. But the Rams targeted him for a reason, and he performed better than tryout invitee Barrett Trotter at the minicamp.
"Obviously we were impressed with what we saw" of Davis in college, Fisher said. "He was a little more comfortable than Barrett just because of their backgrounds. He's a smart young man. He's an accurate passer, and he played well and kept them in a lot of games."
Davis' biggest game was late in his senior season when Southern Miss knocked off No. 7 Houston 49-28. He passed for 278 yards and four touchdowns and knocked Houston from the BCS picture.
He then signed with agent Bus Cook, who also represents Favre, and went to work on aspects of his game that didn't get much repetition in college. After getting past the disappointment of going undrafted, he seized on the opportunity with the Rams.
They sent Davis a playbook to study a week before minicamp. He sacrificed sleep last weekend to scour the pages more intensely with only two practices to make an initial impression.
"I know my way into the league will be all about learning a system and knowing what to do and starting as a backup," he said. "So, I wanted to get a head start."
Re: Rookie QB faces big transition
Fair play. I hope the young man comes good. . . . .
Nobody had ever heard of a certain #13 in 1999 either.