A place to call home

After a nomadic first few years of college football, ECU quarterback Dominique Davis has found a comfortable spot in a spread offense. Now after leading C-USA in passing yards and TDs, Davis is poised to help the Pirates contend in the East Division.

MEMPHIS – The winding journey to East Carolina's football program was tricky enough that Dominique Davis fully appreciates where he's gotten and what is at his fingertips.

The Florida native has gone to Boston to tiny Fort Scott, Kans., and then finally Greenville, N.C. Along the way, he's played for four different head coaches and adjusted to that many different offenses.

Now he enters the final leg of his college journey as one of the top quarterbacks in a pass-oriented Conference USA and a big reason why the Pirates are confident they can make some noise in the East Division.

"We're headed up," Davis said at C-USA Media Day. "The sky is the limit. We were disappointed in the way last season ended and we think we can feed off that this season."

Three straight losses ended the 2010 campaign: a stunning 62-38 setback vs. Rice, a 45-38 loss in overtime to West Division champion SMU and a 51-20 blowout against Maryland in the Military Bowl.

While disappointed is a word that might apply to a lot of areas for the Pirates after they fizzled down the stretch, with Davis and ECU's spread passing attack, it's hard to find much dissatisfaction.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Lakeland, Fla., native led C-USA in pass completions (393), yards (3,967) and touchdown passes (37) and was a major cog in a Pirates' offense that ranked second in the league with 318.7 yards a game through the air and fourth in total offense (437.6 yards per game).

"Dominique was everything we thought he could be," second-year ECU coach Ruffin McNeill said. "He was a perfect fit for our offense."

Which is exactly why Davis stuck with the Pirates instead of taking another detour.

After leaving BC with 3½ games of Division I starting experience under his belt and spending a season in junior-college football purgatory in the Kansas-based Jayhawk Conference, Davis was eager to find a spot where he'd get a chance to start right away and put the ball in the air – a lot.

Former ECU coach Skip Holtz convinced Davis he'd get that chance, but then he left for the South Florida job. In stepped McNeill after 10 years at Texas Tech and he brought up-and-coming offensive mastermind Lincoln Riley with him.

Riley is the latest branch of the high-octane offensive coaching tree that started with former Kentucky coach Hal Mumme and includes deposed Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, Baylor's Art Briles, Louisiana Tech's Sonny Dykes and West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen.

"Once I found out old that part of the old Texas Tech crew was coming to ECU, my heart just about jumped out of my chest," Davis said. "Then Coach Ruff and Coach Riley came to my house and told me they still wanted me. That was important to me to hear."

It's turned out important for the Pirates as well and now Davis enters the 2011 season as one of the league's top QBs.

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