What does the word "slot" mean in the football world? The slot is the space between a tackle and an outside receiver that's usually occupied by a big, sure-handed receiver or a fast, game-breaking threat an offense tries to use against an opposing linebacker. The slot receiver is a vital part of a passing offense, and in many cases, is the playmaker in a spread formation.
The best slot receiver in the country, and one of the most dynamic receiving threats in college football, goes relatively unnoticed. He plays for the University of Hawaii and doesn't receive a lot of national exposure. Hawaii schedules games on Saturdays, but half of the country — the East Coast — doesn't see him play until early Sunday morning, if at all. Most people don't know his name and refer to him as No. 7, because he sports blond dreadlocks that cover the name on the back of his jersey.
Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let me introduce you to Davone Bess.
Since his arrival, Bess has been the most consistent offensive weapon for Warriors highly rated quarterback Colt Brennan. Bess, a junior, has improved his game each year and has posted virtual-reality-like numbers while being Brennan's favorite target.
As a true freshman, he made an instant impact on offense hauling in 89 receptions for 1,124 yards and 14 touchdowns. The ensuing season, he recorded 96 catches for 1,220 yards and 15 touchdowns. And this season, Bess had been exceptional, catching 101 passes for 1,213 yards and 12 touchdowns with the Sugar Bowl still remaining.
Bess scores a touchdown.
Marco Garcia/Getty Images
At 5-foot-10, 190-pounds, Bess isn't the biggest player or the fastest, but he gets a smooth release off the line and possesses quick feet and excellent hands. He's a shifty player in and out of his routes and is slippery after the catch, making him difficult to get on the ground. He's a versatile receiver who can play inside or outside. He has great vertical speed and a knack for the spectacular. Bess also contributes on special teams as a punt returner.
On the field, it's hard to find something not to like about Bess, except for his size. But off the field, he has a sketchy past.
Prior to enrolling at Hawaii, Bess originally was slated to attend Oregon State. He was all set to play football for the Beavers until he allowed some friends to put stolen property in his car a month after he graduated from high school. The incident cost Bess his scholarship, and he was sentenced to 15 months at a juvenile detention facility.
After he served his sentence, Hawaii Head Coach June Jones saw promise in Bess and gave him a second chance to do what he does best.
"I think he's appreciative of the second chance, and he's not going to let it slip through his fingers," Jones said. "He's just a great kid and one of the hardest workers I've ever had."
That hard work will most likely land Bess in the third round of the 2008 NFL
Draft, if he forgoes his senior season. With the Warriors headed to their first
major bowl game and Brennan playing in the NFL next year, Bess may look at
Hawaii's situation and come to the conclusion that it won't get any better than
this and declare for the draft.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.