FLOWERY BRANCH – When Falcons rookie quarterback Dominique Davis grabbed the microphone, he went straight old-school Motown.
Several reports have confirmed that his Eddie Kendricks’ impersonation of the Temptations song “Just My Imagination” would have drawn solid marks from Simon Cowell. He had the hostile crowd eating from the palm of his hands. If it was an American Idol episode, he would have earned a trip to the finals.
Also, the rookie defensive linemen, with Louis Nzegwu singing lead, did a nice cover of “My Girl.”
That’s just part of rookie life during training camp in the NFL.
Davis, who’s battling for one of the backup quarterbacks spots, took it all in stride. He credits his older brother, Desmond Clark, who played tight end in the NFL (1999-2010) with Denver, Miami and Chicago, with a valuable tip.
“When he got drafted I was young, so I’ve been around it ever since I was 10 or 11 years old,” Davis said. “There wasn’t too much he couldn’t tell me. The only thing he could really tell me is that ‘you’re a rookie and there are certain things they are going to do to you because you’re a rookie, but it’s all a part of the process.’ ”
So when they told Davis to sing. He cleared his throat and started to sing.
The former star at East Carolina, who passed for more than 7,100 yards in two seasons, is trying to make the roster from one of the most improbable climbs.
Despite re-writing the record book at ECU, he was not invited to the NFL scouting combine. He had to pay a registration fee to participate in regional combine with some 500 other players at the Falcons’ facilities in Flowery Branch.
He was one of the lucky ones and was invited to the super regional combine in Detroit.
It was a lonely three days of the draft for Davis, too.
“I was just sitting there in front of the TV waiting for my name to get called,” said Davis, whom ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper had rated as the 27th best quarterback in the 2012 draft. “It didn’t get called. About 10 minutes later, Atlanta called me and that was it.”
He started his career at Boston College and was a redshirt freshman during Matt Ryan’s senior season.
In 2008, he helped lead the Eagles to the ACC championship game, but was later suspended for academic reasons and transferred to Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College.
“It was just a learning experience,” said Davis of his departure from Boston College. “Everybody makes mistakes. Only the successful people learn from those mistakes. I always keep that experience in the back of my mind.”
He led Fort Scott to an 11-0 record and a showdown with Cam Newton and Blinn (Texas) College for the national junior college championship. Newton’s squad edged Davis and Fort Scott 31-26 when they returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown with 15.4 seconds left in the game.
“When people talk about that game, they just talk about it like we got beat,” Davis said. “Like Cam Newton was the savior of that game. We were up and we punted the ball with seconds left and they returned the ball. That was the game. That was nothing you could do about it. It’s something I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life. Every time that somebody brings it up, it kind of hurts, but you have to move on from it.”
While Newton went off the Auburn, won the FCS national title and the Heisman Trophy, Davis was still looking for an offer after that title game. East Carolina stepped in and he leaped at Skip Holtz’ offer and remained committed to the Pirates after Holtz left for South Florida.
He became the first East Carolina quarterback to complete more than 700 passes for 7,000 yards or more as he had 727 completions in 1,103 attempts for 7,192 yards.
During his brief Boston College stint, Davis took some lessons from Ryan.
“It was just a great experience, seeing a great quarterback out there, just making things happen,” Davis said. “What I tried to get from him was the consistency. He was consistent day-in and day-out. He was a blue collar guy on and off the field. I tried to model myself after him.”
Ryan has been impressed with Davis’ work with the Falcons.
“He’s a smart kid,” Ryan said. “He’s sharp. He done a great job of picking up the offense and ours is not one that is easy. We’ve got a lot that goes into it. I think he’s done a really, really good job with it.”
Ryan remembers their time together at Boston College.
“Dom was quiet when he came in,” Ryan said. “He’s still a relatively reserve guy. The one thing that I was always impressed with, even back then, is that he keeps his head down and he works hard. When he gets his shot, just like in college, he takes full advantage of it.”
Ryan is kind of jealous of one aspect of Davis’ development.
“He’s filled out a lot more,” Ryan said. “I used to be bigger than him in college. He was 18 and I was 22. Now, I think he’s got about 15 pounds on me, which is crazy.”
Davis is the fourth quarterback in a battle for one or possibly two spots behind Ryan. He’s battling Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson for a roster spot. Also, he could end on the practice squad.
He completed 6-of-11 passes for 53 yards in the exhibition opener against Baltimore. While he’s off to a good start, he’s not taking anything for granted.
“Until I can get a legit spot here, it’s all about business for me,” Davis said. “I don’t want to give any players or coaches the impression that I’m comfortable.”
Davis, thanks to his time with Ryan, knows what he has to do to impress the coaches.
“I just have to stay consistent, do the best I can,” Davis said. “Just make plays and don’t make too many mistakes, turnovers and stuff like that. I have to try to be a leader out there.”
Quarterbacks coach Glenn Thomas has been impressed.
“Dom has done really, really well,” Thomas said. “He’s a soft-spoken guy. He doesn’t say a lot. He just kind of lays back and soaks in information. If you ask him a question, he’ll answer it. He’s seems to be on top of his stuff.”
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