Decision to Draft Punter Makes for 'Good Competition'

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Apparently, the Washington Redskins are trying to send a message to punter Derrick Frost. After offering Frost, a free agent this offseason, only a veteran minimum contract to re-sign, the Redskins made the unusual move of drafting a punter, selecting Durant Brooks of Georgia Tech in the sixth round with the 168th overall pick.

And after introductory news conferences for the Redskins' top three draft picks yesterday at Redskins Park, Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, said he was eager to see the competition between Frost and Brooks.

"Absolutely," Cerrato said. "That's why we drafted him. It'll be a good competition."

Brooks won the Ray Guy Award as college football's top punter last season. He had a 40.6-yard net average as a senior. Frost had a 36.4-yard net average for the Redskins in 2007.

Teams rarely expend draft picks on punters because other positions are considered more important, and NFL punters typically take time to develop. The Redskins last drafted a punter in 1993, selecting Ed Bunn of Texas- El Paso with the second of their two third-round picks. Bunn did not make the team.

But the Redskins had 10 draft picks and Danny Smith, Washington's special teams coach, strongly recommended Brooks, so Cerrato took him.

"He was the only punter that Danny wanted to take," Cerrato said. "It's the first time we've ever done that, it's the first time [Smith] ever said that, so we put some stock into that."

Davis's Success Story

Former Southern California tight end Fred Davis, the Redskins' second draft pick, was scheduled to travel from Redskins Park to New York to receive the Mackey Award, presented to college football's top tight end. Winning the award and getting picked on the first day of the draft shows how far Davis has come.

Highly recruited as a wide receiver out of high school in Toledo, Ohio, Davis selected USC over Ohio State. Davis was far away from his family for the first time and homesick as a freshman. When he returned to USC late after going home during a school break, Coach Pete Carroll suspended Davis for the 2005 Orange Bowl, which the Trojans won, 55-19, completing their run to an undefeated season and the national championship.

Davis considered leaving USC, but his mother, Margo, told him USC wasn't the problem.

"He had some growing up to do, and he had to learn that on his own," she said. "Mama couldn't teach him and daddy couldn't teach him. The homesickness, going out to California and having to acclimate to a big city as opposed to Toledo, a small town, and not knowing anybody out there . . . it was hard for him and it was hard for me, too.

"But he finally grasped it. He finally said, 'Hey, this is my life. This is my future.' He had to make some decisions and he did. This is why he's here today."

As a senior at USC, where he finally thrived after being converted to a tight end, Davis had a personal-best 62 receptions for 881 yards (a 14.2-yard average) and eight touchdowns. Davis, who holds all of the Trojans' season and career receiving records for tight ends, said his experience at USC prepared him for the NFL. "Being at SC kind of helped me get that competition level high all the time," Davis said.

Rookie Knows the Colors

It's not surprising that former Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, while growing up in Longview, Tex., was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. When did Kelly, the Redskins' third pick, stop rooting for the Cowboys?

"About two days ago," he said. . . .

At his introductory news conference in February, Coach Jim Zorn misspoke in referring to the Redskins' colors as "maroon and black." The Redskins' colors are burgundy and gold.

So when Davis correctly mentioned the team colors while standing at the lectern, Zorn, seated at a table to Davis's right, smiled and pumped his arm repeatedly, prompting team employees to laugh and applaud.

"I taught him that," said Zorn, who also broke into laughter. "I taught him well."

Thirteen More On Board

The Redskins agreed to terms with 13 undrafted rookie free agents, the team announced. They are OL Shannon Boatman, Florida State; OL Kerry Brown, Appalachian State; OL Devin Clark, New Mexico; OL Kyle DeVan, Oregon State; DE Alonzo Dotson, Oklahoma; WR Horace Gant, St. Olaf College; LB Curtis Gatewood, Vanderbilt; QB Bret Meyer, Iowa State; S Kevin Mitchell, Illinois; CB Matteral Richardson, Arkansas; S Justin Scott, Purdue; DE Dorian Smith, Oregon State; LB Bryan Wilson, Morgan State. . . .

The Redskins' plans to build an indoor practice facility are proceeding slowly, Zorn said.

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