<
>

QB Davis Webb getting comfy at Cal after early culture shock

Davis Webb's football career has been both consistently twisting and promising. He's seen a lot, experienced impressive successes, and suffered through injuries and a frustrating rejection.

So don't assume that he doesn't understand the conflicted emotions, complications, and potential pratfalls he faces as a graduate transfer from Texas Tech to California with a momentary verbal pit stop in Colorado.

As he noted, "This isn't my first rodeo."

Webb is the son of a Texas high school football coach, and that included an early exposure to the cold business of football. He was the junior starter at Keller High School, but when the staff at Keller was fired, he followed his dad, Matt, to Prosper High for his senior year. It could have been an uncomfortable situation.

"[Webb] deals with his teammates exactly how you'd want your quarterback to," then-Prosper head coach Kent Scott told Fox Sports in 2013. "He was only here for one year, but you'd have thought he has been here since kindergarten."

Webb's philosophy on winning over a new team and quickly assuming the leadership mantle is pretty simple.

“The goals are always the same," he said. "Be the best teammate you can be and be the hardest worker on the team and do right on and off the field.”

Webb could be transformative for Cal. Entering spring practices, the Bears had huge questions at quarterback, where they were replacing Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and pretty much the entire receiving corps. Things picked up at receiver when Melquise Stovall broke out in the spring game, and highly touted prep receiver Demetris Robertson surprised many by signing with Cal two months after national signing day.

While Webb still has to win the job -- he started 14 games at Texas Tech and threw 46 touchdown passes -- his competition has no substantial game experience. In terms of playing Pac-12 competition, just ask Arizona State about him. He won MVP honors in the 2013 Holiday Bowl against the then-No. 14 Sun Devils, throwing for 403 yards in a 37-23 upset victory.

Further, the reason he backed out of his commitment to Colorado and went with Cal was because of fit. Bears coach Sonny Dykes and new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital run a version of the "Air Raid" offense that took root at Texas Tech under Mike Leach. Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury played QB for Leach, so the concepts and terminology are familiar.

Things got complicated for Webb at Texas Tech in large part because the Red Raiders were so QB rich. Webb was beaten out by Patrick Mahomes last year, but his back-and-forth QB competitions along the way included Baker Mayfield, now a Heisman Trophy candidate at Oklahoma, and Michael Brewer, who became the starter at Virginia Tech.

Don't think, by the way, that the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Webb doesn't believe he should have won and kept the job in Lubbock.

“I always felt like I was the best every single day because of the competitor I am, but at the same time that’s Coach Kingsbury’s decision. And while I may not agree with the decision he made, I respect it," Webb said of losing his starting spot.

There's apparently no animosity between Webb and Kingsbury, who was supportive of Webb's decision to transfer.

"Davis Webb is the hardest-working individual I've ever had the privilege of coaching," Kingsbury said in a statement after Webb announced his decision to leave. "He's a fierce competitor and an extremely talented quarterback. Wherever Davis lands, he will immediately change the outlook of that program."

Kingsbury's high praise isn't just PR boilerplate, either. No less than ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. rates Webb as the nation's No. 1 senior QB entering the 2016 season, noting he "... in particular has an NFL skill set and is a player NFL teams will watch closely. He could thrive in the draft process."

Webb is aware of Kiper's take and is flattered, but he's not a guy who covets flattery. In fact, it's the opposite.

“That’s a great honor -- to be rated that high is very cool -- but at the same time, Mel Kiper is not drafting anybody next year," he said. “I’m more focused on people who don’t think I’m very good. I want to prove those guys wrong.”

Webb has been on campus for a month at Cal, throwing with his new receivers, taking classes, and getting acclimated to Berkeley, which he admits includes a bit of culture shock. He was born and raised in Texas, and, well, he notes that he's probably going to keep his cowboy boots in the closet over the next few months.

“I think Lubbock, Texas, is one of the most conservative cities in the country," he said. "Then you come to Berkeley and it’s one of the most liberal cities in the country. People are different in both places. I’m embracing the culture here. The people here are unbelievable.”

Fans from some college football outposts who have wandered Telegraph Avenue are smiling at the term "unbelievable."

But whatever differences with campus culture, what matters is that football looks the same when you cross the white lines. On the field, Webb looks like a potentially perfect fit for Cal.