Cal QB Davis Webb preparing for combine: ‘I’m gonna separate myself’

Cal QB Davis Webb preparing for combine: ‘I’m gonna separate myself’

Davis Webb's college career began at Texas Tech, where he set Big 12 records and was named Holiday Bowl MVP as a true freshman. It ended at Cal after he was replaced in Texas following injuries. Through the ups and downs, Webb's confidence never wavered. 

“Ask the coaches at Texas Tech and now at Cal and they’ll all tell you the same things,” Webb said to CSNBayArea.com in an exclusive phone interview. “I’m the hardest worker in the facility, I’m a great teammate.

"And I can spin the rock better than anybody in the country.” 

Webb had big shoes to fill at Cal, replacing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Jared Goff. He performed admirably, finishing 419 passing yards and six touchdowns shy of Goff's 2016 marks ... in one less game.

With his college career in the rearview mirror, Webb is putting all his focus on the next step in his career -- the NFL Draft in April. He's training daily at Proactive Sports Performance in Thousand Oaks with 11-year NFL quarterback and longtime coach Jim Zorn. 

A recent "light" day began at 8:00 a.m. with a two-hour throwing session under Zorn's watchful eye. Two more hours of mobility, running and motions were followed by another hour of passing with Zorn. Then Webb moved on to his mental game with three hours in the classroom. The day ended with a big dinner back at home and a little extra homework for desert. 

“It’s a full day and it’s a lot of fun,” Webb said of his current routine.

The next chance for Webb to showcase his skills before the draft comes Feb. 28 in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine, an opportunity he looks to take full advantage of.

“I’ve got a couple goals in mind,” Webb said, “but I’m gonna keep those personal because those are my goals. I’m excited to shock some people at the combine because I’m pretty athletic.”

Some players opt to sit out specific combine events, but as someone who feels he has plenty to prove, don’t expect that from Webb.

“Oh yeah, I’m doing it all,” he said proudly. “I’m a very competitive person and I feel like I’ve got a lot to show and prove, and I have no problem doing that.” 

After excelling in an open shotgun offense at both Texas Tech and Cal, Webb’s main goal heading into the draft is to show he's more than just a system quarterback.

“The thing I want to prove to people the most is just my football capability of being able to learn a brand new offense and I did that at the Senior Bowl,” Webb said. “I learned a West Coast offense with the Cleveland Browns and got better every day and that translated over to a great game in the Senior Bowl. 

“I think I proved that first hurdle and I’m just gonna keep continuing to do that and prove that I’m not a system guy and I have the capability to learn any offense, and if you give me the information, I’m gonna lock it down.”

Indeed, Webb put on a show in the Senior Bowl. After entering the game in the second quarter for the South, Webb completed 5 of 7 passes on a 95-yard drive that culminated in a perfectly placed 39-yard touchdown, a flick-of-the-wrist fade pass to Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds. Webb was named the game's Most Outstanding Player after throwing for 165 yards on 11-of-16 passing. He led scoring drives all three times he hit the field in the South’s 16-15 win. 

“I think the biggest thing was just how detailed every play is,” Webb said of his experience running an NFL-style offense. “You spend 10 minutes on a play. It’s very detailed from the receiver splits to the quarterback’s drops, to the mechanics of the whole play, to why we’re callin’ it, why the protection is that way, to situations and down and distance.”

For Webb, a Texas Tech graduate who earned just under a 4.0 GPA in his three months as a Cal grad student, the NFL game plays to his advantage. 

“It’s a detailed game and that’s something that kind of plays in my favor,” Webb said. “I’m a cerebral guy, I’m a thinker and that’s why I think I’m gonna separate myself from these quarterbacks in the draft class and continue to get better because I’m the one putting the work in and I plan on having a good career.”

Webb is considered to be a top five quarterback in the 2017 draft class, along with Clemson's Deshaun Watson, North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky, Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer and Patrick Mahome II, who replaced Webb when he went down with injuries at Texas Tech.

The 22-year-old has been in contact with all 32 NFL teams including the 49ers and Raiders. San Francisco is one of a number of teams in need of a franchise quarterback along with the Browns, Jets, Bears, Bills, Cardinals, Texans, and Jaguars.

"Football is not a hobby of mine, it’s an addiction," Webb said. "I want to be around this game for the rest of my life, whether that’s playing or coaching one day and I just love this game."

Webb was the backup quarterback on his seventh grade B-team. The next year, he was dropped a level and served as the C-team backup. The experience made him a huge fan of Tom Brady, who went from an overlooked sixth-round pick to the greatest champion in Super Bowl history. Just like Brady, Webb strives to prove his doubters wrong.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a chip on my shoulder, it’s just a feeling that maybe someone doesn’t want you, maybe someone thinks another quarterback is better,” said Webb. “I want to be the best quarterback I can be, the best quarterback for that team, because that’s all I can control. 

“I plan on being the best version of myself as a friend, a brother, a son, and a quarterback. I plan on working on that each and every day and getting better each and every day.”

Webb has 70 days left until the Browns are on the clock in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our feature on Cal quarterback Davis Webb...

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

josh-jackson-kansas-ap.jpg

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

uncwins-ap.jpg
AP

Redemption: Year after heartbreak, UNC outlasts Gonzaga to win title

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's OK, Carolina, you can open your eyes.

An unwatchable game turned into a beautiful night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate.

Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.

It was, in North Carolina's words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year's title game on Kris Jenkins' 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.

"Just unreal that we get a second chance at this," junior Theo Pinson said, recounting a pre-game conversation with teammate Joel Berry II. "Not a lot of people can say they can do that. I told him, `We're about to take this thing. I'm about to give everything I got.' I knew he would, too, We just didn't want to come up short again."

But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth.

The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.

Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.

Jackson took a zinger of a pass under the basket from Pinson and converted the shot, then the ensuing free throw to take the lead for good. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.

Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 3, then Kennedy Meeks, in foul trouble all night (who wasn't?), blocked Williams-Goss' shot and Jackson got a slam on the other end to put some icing on title No. 6 for the Tar Heels.

Williams got his third championship, putting him one ahead of his mentor, Dean Smith, and now behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp.

"I think of Coach Smith, there's no question," Williams said. "I don't think I should be mentioned in the same sentence with him. But we got three because I've got these guys with me and that's all I care about right now - my guys."

Berry recovered from ankle injuries to lead the Tar Heels, but needed 19 shots for his 22 points. Jackson had 16 but went 0 for 9 from 3. Overall, the Tar Heels actually shot a percentage point worse than they did in Saturday night's win over Oregon.

Thank goodness for free throws.

They went 15 for 26 from the line and, in many corners, this game will be remembered for these three men: Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades, the referees who called 27 fouls in the second half, completely busted up the flow of the game and sent Meeks, Gonzaga's 7-footers Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, and a host of others to the bench in foul trouble.

The game "featured" 52 free throws. Both teams were in the bonus with 13 minutes left. Somehow, Collins was the only player to foul out.

Most bizarre sequence: With 8:02 left, Berry got called for a foul for (maybe) making contact with Karnowski and stripping the ball from the big man's hands. But as Karnowski was flailing after the ball, he inadvertently grabbed Berry around the neck. After a long delay, the refs called Karnowski for a flagrant foul of his own.

"I'm not going to talk about refs," Karnowski said. "It was just a physical game."

Zags coach Mark Few handled it with class, calling the refs "three of the best officials in the entire country," and insisting they did a fine job.

He might have wanted further review on the scrum with 50 seconds left. The refs were taking heat on social media for calling a held ball, which gave possession to the Tar Heels, on a pile-up underneath the Carolina basket. It set up the Hicks layup to put Carolina ahead by 3. One problem: Meeks' right hand looks to be very much touching out of bounds while he's trying to rip away the ball.

"That was probably on me," Few said. "From my angle, it didn't look like an out of bounds situation or I would have called a review. That's tough to hear."

The Bulldogs (37-2), the Cinderella-turned-Godzilla team from the small school in the West Coast Conference, tried to keep the big picture in mind. Twenty years ago, this sort of run at that sort of place looked virtually impossible. With less than 2 minutes left, they had the lead in the national title game.

"We broke the glass ceiling everyone said we couldn't break," junior forward Johnathan Williams said.

And North Carolina got over a hump that, at times this season, felt like a mountain.

"They wanted redemption," Williams said. "I put it on the locker room up on the board - one of the things we had to be tonight was tough enough. I think this group was tough enough tonight."