Nate Davis: From Ball State to Big Time

Over the last decade, the MAC (Mid-American Conference) has produced some high-quality NFL quarterbacks. From Chad Pennington to Byron Leftwich to Ben Roethlisberger, it's a conference high in quarterback quality. And now, Nate Davis of Ball State looks to be the next in line.

In three years under coach Brady Hoke, Davis put up some heady numbers -- 9,233 yards, 74 touchdowns, and only 22 interceptions. Those stats came from a spread offense and that must be taken into consideration, but many scout believe that Davis has what it takes to make it at the next level. Unlike some spread hothouse flowers, Davis does have good deep accuracy, and he worked on his mechanics pre-Combine with Steve DeBerg. Those who watched his throwing session inside Lucas Oil Stadium were specifically impressed by his deep ball.

At the podium inside the Combine media room, Davis talked about what he needed to prove in Indianapolis. "I need to prove that I can show my ability and just throw the football," Davis said. "Really, I am just out here trying to show myself off to all the NFL teams. Trying to find a team to fall in love with me."

The Falcons were one of several teams to talk to Davis, and his mobility could provide an interesting spin on certain direct-snap plays. Specifically, Davis talked to and about the Chiefs, who ran a derivation of the shotgun called the Pistol Formation. In the Pistol, a quarterback will line up about tree yards behind center, the running back another three yards behind, an H-back will be involved for blocking purposes, and tight ends are used more for receiving than blocking -- Tony Gonzalez really impressed when Kansas City ran the formation. It was thought that the Pistol would mitigate the idea that quarterback Tyler Thigpen would be able to adjust to a hybrid scheme.

They said, ‘Draw up your favorite play,'" Davis said of his time with the Chiefs. "Out of our spread offense. They liked what I showed them. I met with (Coach Todd) Haley. The play was called 'Bunch Right 32 Double Post'. You have a two-option read. You have a guy in the middle and a guy going on the outside. It was a big play for us. We used it a lot. We got a lot of touchdowns out of that. You want to have this play against cover three. We had teams play a lot of cover three against us."

Davis knows that he'll more complex defenses in the NFL, but he seems comfortable with the idea of the pro game. "This has always been a dream. Coach Hoke and Coach (Stan) Parrish always told me to just work hard and you'll get there. They put me in a good position. Probably in the middle of the season, I started hearing from the coaches that this could be a good time for me to leave. I wasn't thinking about it but people were just telling me it was good time to leave."

Certainly with a quarterbacks class that's less then spectacular, Davis exhibits good timing in coming out now. ranks him as the fifth-best draft-eligible quarterback, which probably wouldn't happen in other years. Not only is Davis coming from an offense that has been traditionally unfriendly to the NFL conversion for his position, but he's also coming out a year early. Ball State went 12-0 in 2008 and played in the MAC Championship, and with a new coaching staff on board for 2009, Davis believes that it's time. He received grades from the first round to the fourth from the evaluation board that rates players and helps them make their decisions.

"I just thought it was a good time to come out," he said of the decision, which was exacerbated by Hoke's departure to San Diego State. "I had done all I could do at Ball State. I had a great career and I think it was the right decision."

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