Watching Colt McCoy dismantle Baylor sparked a lifelong love affair with the quarterback position for Cal quarterback Davis Webb

Watching Colt McCoy in person while on an ice hockey club trip to Austin, Davis Webb fell in love with the quarterback position, and now, he finally gets his crack at the Texas Longhorns.

Growing up across Texas with his football and baseball coach father Matt, California quarterback Davis Webb had two passions: Texas Longhorns football, and, of all things, ice hockey.

"It was hockey over everything," said Webb, who played club hockey with the Dallas Stars Select and the Alliance Bulldogs on the same ice the Dallas Stars used, at their practice facility. He played center, all the way up to his freshman year of high school.

"If I kept playing, I'd probably have been a defenseman, as big as I got," said the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder, between warm-up tosses before practice at California Memorial Stadium. He still zealously defends the quality of the ice in Texas. It was hockey, in fact, that helped introduce Webb to the Longhorns, who he will face this Saturday, at 7:30 p.m., on ESPN, in the Bears' first home game of Webb's first -- and only -- season in Berkeley, as a graduate transfer out of Texas Tech.

At the age of 11, Webb's club hockey team played a tournament down in Austin. On Saturday, Oct. 14, they sat in Darrell K. Royal Stadium, and watched a redshirt freshman quarterback named Colt McCoy dismantle Baylor to the tune of a 63-13. McCoy threw for a then-career-high 275 yards, going 21-of-32.

"He threw six touchdowns against Baylor, and broke the record," Webb said. "Colt McCoy was my favorite quarterback, growing up, in college. I'll always have respect for the Texas Longhorns."

Webb was used to being in charge. He played center on the ice, and, although he played shortstop and pitched occasionally, his favorite spot on the baseball diamond was behind the plate, catching.

"He always liked to be back there, in charge of things," said Matt Webb, who has coached high school football and baseball since 1990, and had Davis as his bat and ball boy since he was five. "He was in dugouts, locker rooms growing up, and I think he picked up a lot of good traits from kids that we coached.”


Webb is an odd bird; a magpie, not to put too fine a point on it. He gathers bits and pieces of plays, styles, techniques and personalities, and builds. It doesn't matter if he's borrowing from another player, from a teammate, from another sport or from other disciplines -- it all goes into his nest.

After fellow Cal quarterback Chase Forrest started working with Adam Dedeaux and former Texas Rangers pitching coach Tom House in Southern California, using House's revolutionary shoulder workouts, Webb, being a Texan, and a baseball fan (he doesn't see nearly as many Rangers games as he'd like these days) immediately glommed on. Dedeaux -- like Forrest, a Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei alumnus -- had worked with House. This past spring, Forrest reached out, and then worked out. After seven sessions, Forrest returned to Berkeley for good, and told offensive coordinator Jake Spavital about what he had done.

"We did player practices and seven-on during the summer, and I would talk to Davis about it," Forrest said.

Webb went for four of his own House workouts. Like Forrest, he flew down to Southern California and back before fall camp. The two didn't work out together, but now, the pair throw weighted green and red rubber balls at a wall every day, then moving to a tennis ball, and working with a specialized towel for dry throws, before picking up a single football, just like Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

"Seeing what he did, the biomechanics behind it, the science behind it, I started YouTube-ing it, trying to get in touch with guys over there and trying to see how they do it, and once I found out the ways that the shoulder works, and how that warm-up does affect the body, I just started doing it, and I’ve done it ever since then," Webb said.

After throwing a program-record 72 passes on Saturday against San Diego State, Webb's body was sore, but the arm felt fine.

“My shoulder’s not sore at all," he said. That’s something that I did not think was going to happen, being in the Air Raid offense and throwing the ball a lot. My arm feels just as good as it did day one, so that’s a credit to that warm-up, and I’ll keep doing it.”

While not as substantive, Webb was just as eager to crib off of the players his father coached, chiefly, Tyler Henley. While Webb was still in elementary school, and his father was coaching at Waxahatchie (Tex.), Henley -- who played both football and baseball -- blew out his ACL in the first football game of the season. A year later, he was back playing right field for Matt Webb, and earned a scholarship to Rice, from where he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.

"I saw his perseverance, and how much adversity he went through," Davis Webb said. "He’s a great person to look up to, and I’ve looked up to so many of my dad’s former players, and just seeing what hard work can do, and the rewards were shown to me at an early age.” Graham, the longtime baseball coach for the Owls, who coached Roger Clemens at San Jacinto Junior College, called Henley the toughest kid he's ever coached. It stuck with Davis Webb.

Another boyhood role model was Waxahatchie pitcher Colton Cain, who started for Matt Webb as a freshman.

“He was a kid that was real mature for his age," Matt Webb said. "He was just a real hard worker, kind of quiet, didn’t say a whole lot, but he was one of those guys that had that quiet intensity about him, and I think Davis picked up on that, and eventually got drafted pretty early by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and played in the minor leagues a little bit. He ended up getting hurt, but he was one of those kids that Davis probably recognized as a leader, and how he went about preparing.”

That started with giving up hockey and baseball after his freshman year of high school.

"He came to me, and said, ‘I want to be a Division I quarterback,’ and I told him, ‘Well, you’re going to have to get a lot better,'" Matt Webb said. "Those kids, Davis picked up that they were a little bit different in their work habits and their work ethic. Practices would end, and they would still be there. Davis would go to work with me and pretty much be turned loose on the athletics facility, wander around, and I'm sure he saw those kids there, and asked them, 'Why are you here?' They were there on their own, and those were things that he picked up on. The kid that Davis is today, it's those kids he learned from watching."


From 6 a.m., until 10 p.m., this offseason, Webb practically lived at California Memorial Stadium. He only left to forage Telegraph for lunch. He watched every practice from the fall, every practice from the spring, and as many games from as many different sources as he could get his hands on. "That’s all the NFL is, all college football is – they all copycat each other when it comes to plays and concepts," Webb said. "Not many people re-invent a new concept or play. They usually steal it from everybody else. I was trying to gather as much information as I could, so I could come into fall camp and try to find a synthesis, a similarity, between our offenses and NFL offenses, and just go with it.”

Inside receiver Ray Hudson noted that one time, he walked by a film room and saw Webb powering through one particular play run by the New England Patriots, three years ago.

"In 20-plus years of doing this, I’ve never seen a guy that’s more dedicated to being a good player than he is," said Cal head coach Sonny Dykes. "His work ethic is just unmatched, unparalleled.”

Webb learned from his former teammates in the NFL how to take care of his body. A full hour before the rest of his lifting group arrived at the weight room this summer, he was already there, whipping out the foam roller and working through a carefully-crafted routine.

Dykes calls Webb's approach "methodical," and "unparalleled," and yes, there are numbers to back it up. Andrew Wasserman, the General Manager of Football Training at STRIVR Labs -- a virtual reality company based in Menlo Park -- said that out of the 13 schools (with a 14th on the way) and six NFL teams that utilize the company's proprietary virtual reality quarterback training system, Webb watches more film than anyone.

"When somebody logs into our software to watch plays in their VR headset, they log in with their jersey number," Wasserman said. "We track how many plays they watch, which plays they watched, what their head movement was like over the course of any given play."

Webb uses the system to see everything. Again, like a catcher barking out bunt coverages, or like a center sitting at the top of the circles, he wants to know what every position could do, and should do.

"He knows exactly what's going on," said receiver Chad Hansen, who has been paid for his endorsement to the tune of 28 passes, three touchdowns and 350 yards over the first two games. "He could play lineman -- well, he couldn't play lineman -- but he could make all the calls the linemen make. He's in the film room all the time. He knows all the checks, all the defensive fronts, all that stuff, all the coverages. Anything you would need a quarterback to know, he has that down." It makes sense. Bears offensive coordinator Jake Spavital -- who Webb has called instrumental in him flipping his commitment from Colorado to the Bears -- has been a vocal proponent of the system, and is described as Wasserman as the ideal offensive coordinator for what they're doing.

"He's the poster child for this," Wasserman said. "He's the type of coach that really embraces this type of thing, and really gets the value out of it. He got it right away. Working with Cal, and in particular, working with coach Spavital, has been amazing, in terms of the buy-in. A lot of coaches have got their routines, and they've got their habits, and you've now got a young guy, who played the quarterback position, and he really understands how to use the technology to impact his players."

It's certainly made an impact on Webb, who has already made it a part of his routine.

"I think that, when you grow up as a coach’s kid, you pay a lot of attention to detail," Spavital said. "Davis watches tape of practice probably two or three times. One, he’s going through the whole thing with scheme, the next one he goes through is about his technique, and he’s starting to understand. He pays close attention to every single person on the field, and I think that just makes communication easier for me, because he’s up to speed, and he’s studied everything about it. He can tell you how Chad runs every single route. He can tell you why D-Rob (Demetris Robertson) is good at running. If you call a certain play, in his mind, he knows exactly where he’s going, because he’s studied the game so much, and that’s where communication is just so easy.”


As Webb noted, football is a copycat sport, and he's been taking notes. Like Spavital, he has an eye turned towards becoming a coach. While Steve Spavital at first discouraged his son from putting on the headset, Matt Webb was more than willing to let a young Davis have his say in the huddle, even before he put on the pads.

"My playbook is ready to go, whenever I start coaching college football," Davis Webb said. "I am ready to go." 

After watching McCoy, he was hooked on becoming a quarterback. Even before that game, since the age of six, Davis Webb had started sitting in front of the television every Saturday, enthralled by college football, always with at least 10 index cards at his side, diagramming plays. After watching McCoy, the Longhorns became a must-watch.

Every Sunday, when Matt Webb would wake, he'd have a fresh pile of index cards on his nightstand, or on his sink before he brushed his teeth.

“Like most places, coaches work on Saturdays down here, and Sundays, so we’d miss a lot of college football games, but as a young kid, and I mean real young, he would start drawing up plays, particularly Texas and Colt McCoy," Matt Webb said. "He would draw up different plays they scored on, and he’d leave them by my nightstand, put them by my sink, and expect us to put them in the game plan. As he got older, he’d be a little bit more adamant – I want to do this, I want to do this – he always wanted to know what we were doing. He was always one of those kids that was fascinated by the strategy and the X’s and O’s of football.”

Matt Webb would throw in some plays here and there, nothing too fancy, as he coached at Colleyville (Tex.) Heritage for eight years, and Waxahatchie for three, and finally to Keller. the time Davis was in seventh grade, and starting to play quarterback, the plays got more detailed, more complex, and then, they started working.

“He bombarded us with those plays," Matt Webb said. "I think there was a couple of Colt McCoy that we put in back in the day, from a tight end set that he really liked, and it worked good for us. Stuff from Texas seemed to often appear on my nightstand or on my sink.”

When asked if the game this Saturday against the Longhorns holds any additional significance, beyond being a chance to bounce back from a 45-40 loss last week to San Diego State, Webb shrugged.

"It's just a game for me," he said. "It's my senior year, so all of them are important. This is nothing. It's just as special as San Diego State, playing Texas. They're a top 10 team, so we need to amp our game up. If we don't, they'll get after us."

Webb never played against the Longhorns while at Texas Tech. Whether it was due to illness or injury, or being Wally Pipp'd by Patrick Mahomes, he never took the field against the team he'd dreamed of playing. 

"It's a little unique," he said. "I probably had pictured it, coming in as a freshman to Texas Tech, but at the same time, that's the opportunity I have, and I had the opportunity to watch Texas when I was with Texas Tech for three years. I never had the opportunity to play Texas, but I'm looking forward to it."

After trading in his stick for a football, and his shin guards for shoulder pads, once again, it all comes back to Texas, and, again, Webb is picking out little tidbits to add to his nest.

"Talking to [Notre Dame quarterback] DeShone Kizer, talking to [Notre Dame receiver] Torii Hunter Jr., who's been one of my best friends since we were seniors at Prosper, I'm trying to talk to those guys, and asking, 'What did you think about Texas?'" Webb said. "They're very freaking good. Texas gives us a lot of problems on offense, so we've got to be able to execute our game plan to the best of our ability. We'll do our job, and see what the scoreboard says at the end of the game."

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