Davis is ready for big things

Once you get into your early 20's, you're usually about as tall as you're going get. A player who has been fighting against the stigma of being a "short" tight end the past couple of weeks is USC TE Fred Davis. Even though there are questions out there about his size, Davis isn't concerned. All he cares about is what happens once he steps on the field.

"I feel like every quarterback definitely needs a tight end he can rely on," Davis told the assembled media earlier this week. "A receiver can be double teamed and you've got other positions covered. If you've got a tight end, you can rely on him to make a big catch or make a big play.

"There's a lot of athletic tight ends now and it helps a lot to have that kind of guy to make those kinds of plays."

Davis measured in at 6-3 and weighed in at a solid 255 pounds. He'll still be scrutinized for his lack of height, but with a good performance over the weekend, Davis is likely headed into the late first-round or early second and many think he's a ready-to-plug-in player who can fit into an NFL scheme well.

In fact, the NFL has gone to splitting their tight ends out wide and getting mismatches with corners and safeties who can be overpowered by the tight ends who have also shown the ability to run with the ball after making the catch.

"We do that a lot at SC," Davis said regarding being split out. "I played a lot of different positions – I played H-Back, I played receiver, I played tight end – I do a lot of different things as a tight end, receiver, blocking-wise, too."

"Yeah, definitely getting downfield, stretching the field one-on-one against a linebacker or safety, that's probably my strong point."

Coming from a school like USC seems to prepare most players for the rigors of the NFL, but Davis noted that you still have to go out and perform.

"I think you've still got to focus on your technique and your workouts," Davis said. "You still have a lot to prove. You're never really perfect on anything. Even guys in the league still think they should be better."

Davis still noted that practices for the Trojans were at times tougher than games and that can definitely prepare you for what you will face in the NFL on a daily basis.

"Just the way we practice, the way we work – the speed and repetition, definitely the caliber of players we play against," Davis said. "We have a great defense, great d-end, great linebackers. Going against that every day in competition, brings it out in a game, makes it a lot easier when you play other teams you can see how you excel in that way.

"You have great competition. You have people playing with you like Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga."

In his four years at USC, Davis set tight end records for receptions (117), yards (1,408) and touchdowns (13) and was also named a First Team All-American by the Sporting News and won the Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end after hauling in 62 receptions for 881 yards and eight scores in 2007.

Even though he put up those gaudy numbers, Davis still had to work his way up the depth chart and mature. He was even left behind when the Trojans played the Oklahoma Sooners for the national title in the 2005 Orange Bowl, but it wasn't because he wasn't good enough – he was late returning from a trip home to visit his family.

"That was my wakeup call," Davis recalled. "I made the transition all the way from Ohio to California and I think I still had a little bit of homesickness in me. Not being used to that, I made a mistake. I could've made my flight earlier to come back, but I didn't.

"I learned a lot from that and to make better decisions since then."

Now his decisions are being looked at by future employers and he's ready to show them what he's made of.


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