Illinois CB Vontae Davis Could be First Cornerback Selected in 2009 NFL Draft
INDIANAPOLIS – The odds are slim, but Vontae Davis wouldn't mind if it happened.
Not a bit.
Davis, a cornerback from the University of Illinois, is widely projected to be one of the first players at his position selected in this weekend's NFL Draft. He also is the younger brother of San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, which raises the possibility the two could play together professionally.
And yes, Vontae Davis said, he is competitive with his older brother.
And yes, Vernon pushed him. A lot.
Still, he said he would embrace the opunity to play with him. But he wouldn't mind playing against him, either.
"I'd love to play with my brother," said Davis, who many analysts project as a potential first-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, which will be held April 25-26 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
"At the same time, I'd love to compete against him. When we wrestle and stuff, he always comes out
on top. So I'd love to come out on top in the real game."
Davis (5-feet-11, 205 pounds), who declared for the draft following his junior season, played three seasons for the Illini, intercepting seven passes and making 206 tackles. He had two interceptions as a junior, making 78 tackles.
"He can do anything he wants athletically," Illinois co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch told the St. Louis Dispatch shortly before 2008 season. "He's grown up so much since he got here. He certainly holds his own ticket. Now, he has to put it all together."
Davis, one of four-to-six cornerbacks projected by many analysts to be selected in the first round, has been projected to go as early as No. 14 overall to the New Orleans Saints.
Few analysts have him slipping past the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 32, and Davis admitted at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in late February the NFL will be an adjustment.
"I'd be in shock if I had to see (New England Patriots wide receiver) Randy Moss," he said. "It's like a dream. I wouldn't know how to react."
Davis, who said he allowed just one touchdown pass as a junior, said he doubts the adjustment will take long.
"Once I start practicing, I should get over things," he said. "I know Randy Moss is going to make me better as a player."
That's something he said his brother did while growing up.
"He's my older brother, so he always thought he could bully me," Davis said. "I expect that because I
look up to him. He pushed me a lot through high school. He did things that made me a better player. He woke me up 5 o'clock in the morning to go throw the ball and he helped me. . . .
"He's bigger and stronger so he tries to pick on me all the time. I say, 'It's all good. You can have the win right now.'
Davis said he opted to not attend Maryland primarily because Vernon played there – "I wanted to be a difference-maker," he said – and while at Illinois, he said he grew as a person and a player.
After starting 23 of 24 games his first two seasons at Illinois, he was demoted to second team by Illinois Head Coach Ron Zook, with the idea being to make Davis re-earn the starting job.
"I want him to be the best he humanly, genetically can be, and I'll hold him to that standard," Zook said at the time. "Sometimes it takes a little wake-up call. I want him to be perfect. It's something that we made a deal when I recruited him and he forgot it."
Said Davis, "He (Zook) always tells me when I look back on this he wants to be known as the one who coached me hard and I looked up and said, 'You did that coach and helped me in the long run.'"
Davis said Zook supported his decision to leave Illinois before his senior season.
"I think I became a better player and I talked to Coach Zook and he said he'd support me if I'd come out of school," Davis said. "I just felt like teams gained more respect for me and it was better for me to go.'
And now that he is entering the NFL, he said he has another goal.
"I don't want to be known as Vernon Davis' little brother," he said. "I just look at it as whatever I can do to help a team, I'd love to do. My main thing is winning games and helping the team improve.'
"Whatever coach wants me to do, I can do."
BREAKING DOWN THE 2009 NFL DRAFT'S TOP CORNERBACKS
The 2009 cornerback class is generally considered solid with no corner generally projected to be selected in the Top 10 overall, but several are projected to be selected in the first round. Ohio State corner Malcolm Jenkins, who some analysts also project as a safety, is considered by some the top player available at the position, with Vontae Davis of Illinois and Darius Butler of Connecticut also projected to go later in the first round. D.J. Moore of Vanderbilt and Alphonso Smith of Wake Forest also have been projected by some analysts as late first-round selections.
ON THE COLTS' ROSTER
Kelvin Hayden, fifth season, Illinois; Marlin Jackson, fifth season, Michigan; Tim Jennings, fourth season, Georgia; Dante Hughes, third season, California; T.J. Rushing, fourth season, Stanford; Michael Coe, third season, Alabama State; Brandon Foster, first season, Texas; Nick Graham, third season, Tulsa; Brandon Sumrall, first season, Southern Mississippi.
THE LAST FIVE
The last five cornerbacks drafted by the Colts . . .
2007: Michael Coe, fifth round, Alabama State.
2007: Dante Hughes, third round, California.
2006: T.J. Rushing, seventh round, Stanford.
2006: Tim Jennings, second round, Georgia.
2005: Kelvin Hayden, second round, Illinois.
2005: Marlin Jackson, first round, Michigan.
THIS YEAR'S DRAFT
An alphabetical list of 20 cornerbacks projected to be selected in the 2009 NFL Draft . . .
Asher Allen, Georgia, 5-9, 195
Kevin Barnes, Maryland 6-0, 185
Darius Butler, Connecticut, 5-10, 185
Vontae Davis, Illinois, 5-11, 205
Coye Francies, San Jose St., 6-0, 185
Cary Harris, USC, 5-11, 185
Victor Harris, Virginia Tech, 5-11, 200
Brandon Hughes, Oregon St., 5-10, 180
Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio St., 6-0, 205
Bruce Johnson, Miami (FL), 5-9, 170
Keenan Lewis, Oregon St., 6-1, 210
Sherrod Martin, Troy, 6-1, 200
Mike Mickens, Cincinnati, 5-11, 185
D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt, 5-9, 190
Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina, 5-8, 180
Christopher Owens, San Jose St. 5-10, 180
Jerraud Powers, Auburn 5-9, 190
Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest, 5-9, 195
Sean Smith, Utah, 6-3, 215
Morgan Trent, Michigan, 6-1, 195