It isn't the coolest nickname. It's nothing like "Crazy Legs" or "Blood," "The Flea" or "Ice Cube."
He doesn't even get a capital letter out of it.
Browns rookie Andre Davis is simply 'e.' That's because the Browns also have an Andra Davis. 'E' (he is a capital E when referred to at the start of a sentence) is a wide receiver from Virginia Tech taken in the second round of the college draft last month. 'A,' or 'a' as his close acquaintances call him, is a linebacker from the University of Florida taken in the fifth round.
This story is about the 'e' Andre Davis. Before the end of his career, maybe even by the end of the 2002 season, Davis might have a nickname more deserving of the talents he possesses.
Taking wide receivers in the second round is a strange tradition for the Browns. Four drafts, four second round picks and four wide receivers is a pattern that someday will be broken.
Kevin Johnson was drafted in the second round in 1999, and ever since the Browns have been searching for his dance partner. Dennis North-cutt was drafted in the second round in 2000 and Quincy Morgan in the second round in 2001.
Andre Davis was projected as a first-round pick or a very high second-round pick on most draft boards. As he continued to fall, the Browns kept their fingers crossed. Fourteen players were drafted in the second round before the Browns turn. When Andre Davis was still on the auction block, the pick was an easy one.
"His big-play capability and his 4.3 speed (in the 40-yard dash) made his value too overwhelming to pass on," Browns head coach Butch Davis said. "We didn't think Andre Davis would be anywhere near our pick. We thought he would be one of those guys gone at the end of the first round."
Drafting Andre Davis could spell the end for Northcutt. Davis is a dangerous punt returner as well as a potent receiver. Davis returned 55 punts for 872 yards in four seasons for the Hokies, a startling 15.9 average. Four of the punts were returned for touchdowns. His best year was his junior season when he returned 18 punts and took three of them in for scores.
"I love returning punts," 'e' said. "I love catching the ball. "
Under other circumstances, Andre Davis might be playing for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, condemned to a life of obscurity except among a handful of rabid soccer fans.
Davis' parents, Clement and Marcia, are from Jamaica, where soccer is the only sport that matters. They moved to the United States in 1970, nine years before Andre was born, yet soccer was still the sport of choice in the Davis household in Niskayuna, New York.
Andre Davis did grow up playing soccer, but he always had an itch to play that "other" sport, American football. Finally, between his sophomore and junior year, he made the switch over the protests of his parents who were worried he'd be injured.
"I wanted to play a position that would involve the least contact possible," he said. "It would be either safety or wide receiver. I think my mom is very happy with my choice now."
Davis is 6-foot-1, 194 pounds. If a receiver is tall, fast and can catch the football, he is indeed a precious commodity. Exactly where he will fit into the Browns offense, only time will tell. He, Johnson and Morgan figure to be the first three, but Andre King came on strong at the end of last season and the Browns last month signed Chris Sanders, a free agent receiver from the Titans. Plus, Northcutt and JaJuan Dawson are still on the roster.
"I'm aware of that," Andre Davis said. "I know they wouldn't pick me unless they thought I could come in and make a difference. I know they use a wide-open offense and throw the ball a lot."
The Browns have to guard against the possibility of losing Johnson. K.J. is in the final year of his contract.
"I want to work it out so I can finish my career here," Johnson said. "I was around for all the losing. I'd like to be around for the winning."
Davis caught 103 passes for 1,886 yards in 39 games for the Hokies. He was a sophomore in 1999 when Michael Vick took Virginia Tech to the National Championship game. That season he caught 35 passes for 962 yards and nine touchdowns. The yardage and touchdowns were career highs despite being so young.
"He has great vertical speed," Butch Davis said. "He can change a game with his ability.
"One thing we struggled with (in 2001) is the return aspect of the game. There was yardage left on the field every Sunday."
That should not be the case anymore.
|Andre Davis (WR)
Pick: No. 47 (second round)
College: Virginia Tech
Position: Wide receiver
Height/Weight: 6-1, 194
40-yard dash: 4.42
Birthdate: June 12, 1979
High School: Suwanee (Live Oak, Fla.)
Honors: Three-time Academic All-Big East Conference; (2001) All-Big EastConference first team; Verizon Academic All-American; The Sporting News Radio's Socrates Award winner