- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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USF receiver Andre Davis showed glimpses of greatness as a true freshman last season.
But now is the time for him to consistently show what he can do. An offseason of full-time work with quarterback B.J. Daniels, plus improvement on his fundamentals and techniques could equal a breakout season for the rising sophomore.
"As he gets more and more comfortable with the system and how he runs routes within the system, we’ll see him start to take off," receivers coach Jerome Pathon said in a recent phone interview. "He’s getting close, but he still has to a ways to go. He also has to have an understanding of what it takes to play as a starter at this level, because he has all the tools."
Davis is firmly entrenched as a starting receiver on the depth chart, after playing a reserve role in 2011. He ended up with 22 catches for 273 yards and two touchdowns, and had a bigger role after Sterling Griffin got hurt early in the season. Davis said it took until the fifth game for him to truly feel like he was catching on.
Now he has that experience to rely upon when the season starts. What USF hopes to take advantage of is his size (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and ability to stretch the field. Pathon says Davis is one of the best he has seen when it comes to judging the deep ball. What should help is a better chemistry with Daniels, something that was tough to achieve last season.
"Last year, we worked a little bit, but not as much, because I was taking reps with 2s and 3s, so I did not have as many reps with him," Davis said in a phone interview. "But in the spring and the summer, I feel like I gained B.J.'s trust. He trusts me a lot. He expects me make the play, and I'm going to be there to make it happen."
As for working on becoming more fundamentally sound, Pathon said, "What we did this last spring was try to work on his technique coming off the ball, route running, working against DBs, all these things that come into play. He's been working hard with the strength and conditioning coaches getting stronger. That's one thing we wanted him to improve on. Now he’s starting to put it all together, starting to get more comfortable working through technical stuff. The more you go over it day in and day out, the more it becomes more of a habit."
And his potential?
"It’s always difficult to project," Pathon said. "If he continues to work hard, I think his celing is as high as it wants to be."