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Study Hall makes Davis a TE Ph.D.

August 17, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Vernon Davis is in a class by himself.

After all, when it comes to football, there aren't many guys signing up to take Tight End 101.

Davis is, and he relishes the coursework

"I have come a long way, in terms of getting bigger, faster and becoming a student of the game," said Davis at the recent University of Maryland football media day. "I still can't believe how far I have come. I have come a long way and I am happy with where I'm at right now."

In modern football, being a tight end is like being an Edsel mechanic. There is little need for either. The wide-open style that the majority of teams play doesn't have a lot of use for short yardage receivers, which usually means tight ends are doomed to a life of seal blocks and pass protection.

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But a combination of Maryland's offensive needs and Davis' emerging talents could make the junior an important piece of the Terps' attack this season.

Coach Ralph Friedgen said the Terps needed to get back to the days when they ran the football. Maryland opened training camp with two fullbacks and two players converted into fullbacks to help go for the tough yardage. He also indicated there would be a place for H-backs and Davis at tight end to get things going as Maryland switches to Sam Hollenbach at quarterback.

"We came out in the spring and said we have to get things going, especially at quarterback," Davis said. "They came out and got things going, but we have a lot to work on."

That makes Davis a luxury for the Terps' offense. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, he is big enough to stay inside and block but he is also quick enough to go out and catch passes - even on a long pattern, if needed. His size and ability allows him to line up as a tight end, wide receiver or fullback on any given play.

The diversity of the position has intrigued Davis and led to his scholarly ways.

"There have been a lot of little things, but the most important one is blocking," Davis said. "To be a good tight end, I needed to improve on my blocking. But I have been learning about the defenses and breaking them down to help me know what I'm supposed to do."

Davis has had little problem wondering what to do once he gets the ball.

He caught 27 passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games last season, including six starts. It was good enough to lead the Terps in touchdown receptions and finish eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 40.1 yards per game.

"I will probably get a lot of short passes," Davis said. "I tend to do well when I get a short pass and get going. It's going to be really important. We need it. If we can't get deep, we are going to have to go short to get things going.

"I'm not a selfish person, but every chance I get, I'll take it."

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