NCAA

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...

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

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From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

Stanford has a penchant for recruiting the overachieving student-athlete. Even among those standards, Harrison Phillips is a rare find. The senior defensive tackle helps feed the homeless every Friday morning at a local shelter. He often visits the kids in the oncology ward at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He was named to the Pac-12 All Academic First Team and will graduate in December with a double major and a minor. He is a team captain and heir apparent to Solomon Thomas, the 49ers third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

“One thing you love about Harrison is, every day he’s going to get something done,” head coach David Shaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “On the field, off the field, in the community, he’s always got a million things going on. But nothing ever suffers.

"He does everything at a high level.”

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Phillips is a mountain of a man. His skill set is different than that of Thomas, but he can be just as disruptive. He plays over the center. He plays over the guards. His self-proclaimed job is to eat as many blocks as possible to keep the linebackers free.

“He’s such that hard point for us. He’s that guy up front that’s getting knock back, that force in the run game that you gotta have,” defensive coordinator Lance Anderson explained. “You have to have that strong solid point in the middle of your defense, and he provides that.”

Phillips had a game-high 11 tackles, five of them solo, in the Cardinal’s loss to USC. No other defensive lineman on the field had more than three.

“He’s outstanding against the run. He’s a very good pass rusher,” Shaw added. “He’s got a lot of tools that can work inside.”

Phillips main instruments of domination are strength, knowledge of leverage and abnormal flexibility for a man of his size.

“He can do the splits on command,” Thomas said laughing from in front of his locker after a recent 49ers practice. “He loves showing it off. We get on him for it. But he loves doing it.

And, according to Thomas, his former Stanford teammate loves to bench. So it comes as no surprise that Phillips’ upper body strength stands out.

“He’ll be really low in a position that you think he’d get knocked over in,” Thomas explained. “Because of how flexible he is, it’s not a problem for him to get in that position and stay there and move on from there. It definitely shows up on his film.”

No doubt, Phillips says, that ability comes from his wrestling experience. His high school curriculum vitae includes, “Nebraska State Wrestling Champion, Heavy Weight Division, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.”

Phillips first year on The Farm, he vividly remembers his Stanford coaches testing him. Just a mere 245 pounds at the time, they put him up against Joshua Garnett and Andrus Peat, two offensive linemen now in the NFL and each well over 300 pounds.

“They’d double team me, almost 700 pounds on you, and I would somehow find leverage and be able to sit on some of those double teams,” Phillips said. “I think the violence that wrestling brings, and balance and being comfortable in weird positions, wrestling has a ton of scrambling, as it's called, you just know your body and know what you can do. I have tremendous flexibility, and I use everything to my advantage.”

One thing Phillips is not allowed to do is use his explosiveness away from the football field. At one time, Phillips could do a back flip off the wall, but he no longer attempts it.

“I’m not a big fan of the back hand springs,” Shaw said. “I’d like for him to stay on his feet.”

Phillips doesn’t argue. He lost his entire sophomore year to a knee injury, and doesn’t want to risk another. He has NFL aspirations and put himself in position to graduate in three-and-a-half years should he choose to enter the 2018 draft. But just as he has done at Stanford, he is looking to be more than just a name on a jersey should he play on a professional level.

“I want to build something that is really lasting,” Phillips said of his life goal, “and put my name on something to touch people’s lives and change people’s lives, pay it forward as much as I can.”

No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win

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USASTI

No. 6 USC routs No. 14 Stanford for 11th straight win

LOS ANGELES  — Steven Mitchell and Deontay Burnett caught two touchdown passes apiece from Sam Darnold, and No. 6 Southern California extended its winning streak to 11 games with a bruising 42-24 victory over No. 14 Stanford on Saturday night.

Darnold went 21 of 26 with 316 yards passing for the Trojans (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12), who snapped their three-game losing streak in this California private-school rivalry. USC racked up 623 total yards and won the first Pac-12 game of the new season by beating the hard-nosed Cardinal (1-1, 0-1) at their own physical game.

Ronald Jones II rushed for 116 yards and scored a touchdown in his ninth consecutive game as USC excelled at Stanford's traditional strengths, running the ball for 307 yards and controlling both lines of scrimmage. Turnovers and penalties by the Trojans kept it fairly close, but freshman Stephen Carr added 119 yards rushing, and Jones cartwheeled into the end zone with a clinching 23-yard TD run with 4:15 to play.

Keller Chryst passed for 172 yards and two touchdowns, while Bryce Love had a 75-yard TD run among his 160 yards rushing for the Cardinal, who hadn't played since their season-opening win over Rice in Australia last month.

After a scoreless third quarter, USC made a 90-yard scoring drive capped by Mitchell's second TD on a feathery 11-yard TD pass by Darnold with 9:42 to play. Stanford stayed close with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside's TD catch with 6:41 to play, but Jones' incredible second TD run capped a smooth 75-yard drive in USC's 11th consecutive win at the Coliseum.

Stanford had won eight of its last 11 meetings with USC in a dominant stretch that began with its historic 2007 upset victory at the Coliseum.

After USC scored 49 points in its season opener, Darnold's offense again was in fine form from the start. USC scored four touchdowns on five lengthy drives in the first half, with Darnold hitting Burnett for two of his three TD passes.

USC moved 74 yards on two plays late in the half to take a 28-17 lead on Burnett's leaping 25-yard TD grab.

THE TAKEAWAY

Stanford: That 62-point performance in the season opener Down Under was impossible to replicate against a top Pac-12 defense, and the Cardinal's offense will know it must add versatility to the attack. Stanford's defense also had big problems at the line of scrimmage, and that isn't a problem with which the Cardinal have much experience.

USC: This talent-laden offense has appeared to have the makings of a juggernaut so far. Darnold returned to 2016 form with a smooth, poised performance against a vaunted conference opponent, while the Trojans' receivers appear to be much more reliable than coach Clay Helton feared. USC's defense also stepped up after halftime and shut down one of the Pac-12's best.

UP NEXT

Stanford: The Cardinal's three-game stretch away from home to open the season concludes at San Diego State.

USC: The Trojans welcome Texas to the Coliseum for a meeting of two powerhouse programs.