East Carolina's Dominique Davis making most of second chance

East Carolina quarterback Dominique Davis, who began his career at Boston College, threw for 36 touchdowns in his first season with the Pirates. East Carolina (6-6) meets Maryland in the Military Bowl on Wednesday.
East Carolina quarterback Dominique Davis, who began his career at Boston College, threw for 36 touchdowns in his first season with the Pirates. East Carolina (6-6) meets Maryland in the Military Bowl on Wednesday. (Butch Dill/associated Press)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 26, 2010; 10:34 PM

There's a slew of gaudy statistics that convey what junior-college transfer Dominique Davis has achieved as East Carolina's quarterback this season.

Among them: The single-season school records for passing attempts (552), completions (358) and passing yards (3,699). The 45 touchdowns (nine of them rushing) that trail only the 49 delivered by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton of Auburn.

But it's the smallest stat - 3.3 - that makes Davis most proud. And it's the first thing he cites when asked, toward the end of a recent telephone interview, if there's anything else he thinks people should know about him.

"I just want Boston College to know I've got a 3.3 GPA," Davis says.

The swagger in Davis's voice was earned the hard way, via a detour through rural Kansas, where he spent last season raising his grade-point average and honing his football skills at Fort Scott Community College after being suspended from Boston College for academic reasons.

The humbling shift of fortunes - going from starting quarterback in the ACC championship game to junior-college signal-caller in a one-stoplight town - proved a turning point. Davis got on track academically, led Fort Scott to an 11-1 record and the national junior college title game and earned a rare second chance in division I-A football.

On Wednesday, he'll lead 6-6 East Carolina against 8-4 Maryland in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium. It will mark Davis's second career start against the Terps (he took over as Boston College's starter with three games remaining in the 2008 season) and his second start in a bowl game (the Eagles fell to Vanderbilt, 16-14, in the Music City Bowl).

The turmoil of bouncing from one offensive scheme to another typically inhibits a football player's development, if it doesn't set it back entirely. Davis appears to have grown despite it, emerging from his circuitous journey only more confident in his ability and his calling.

"I could have easily said, 'I'm done with football and done with school [after Boston College],' " Davis said. "That's just not who I am. I'm not a quitter."

Nor does he take his opportunity for granted, the time in Kansas having left him with an acute sense of the privilege of playing major-college sports and a determination to make the most of every snap.

"He has a tremendous work ethic," says East Carolina's first-year coach, Ruffin McNeill. "He's really a smart player who studies the game in the film room. You want your best player to be your hardest worker and most passionate. And when your best player not only thinks that way but acts that way, it affects your whole team."

Says the 6-3, 215-pound Davis: "With me, it doesn't matter what system it is. I'm just a very coachable player. If you tell me what to do, I'm going to do it. I might not get it down the first time or two. But I'll get to where the coach wants me to be."


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