Texas is all Davis Webb knew for the first 21 years of his life. The 6-foot-5 NFL hopeful grew up in the Dallas area of Prosper, excelled at Prosper High School and became the second true freshman ever to start at quarterback for Texas Tech University — a five-hour drive from his hometown. Calling his transition West to Berkeley a whole new world is easily an understatement.
"I knew it was going to be different, but I don’t think I knew how different it is compared to Dallas, Texas, or Lubbock, Texas," Webb told CSNBayArea.com in an exclusive phone interview. "It’s a complete 180 from where I spent the first 21 years of my life.
"But at the same time, I’m in love with Berkeley."
Webb's love for Berkeley began where you might expect — on the gridiron. As soon as he arrived on campus in late May, Webb hit the field to throw with his eventual leading receiver, Chad Hansen, and other new teammates as well.
"I created a bunch of new friendships and we competed and got after it hard that summer," Webb said. "I fell in love with Cal, I fell in love with my teammates and I fell in love with the university.”
After acclimating with his new teammates and feeling more comfortable in his new home, Webb soon indulged all the Bay Area has to offer. The new guy on campus frequented the press box atop Memorial Stadium and gaze out to the Golden Gate Bridge and the arresting view before it. He attended Oakland A’s games at the Coliseum, San Francisco Giants games at AT&T Park, and Cal basketball games at Haas Pavilion.
“I love that place,” Webb said. “I love the [Berkeley] strip, I love my teammates, I love the Bay Area. I love the weather, obviously. The food was great and there’s beautiful women everywhere.”
Coming from one of the most conservative areas in the country, Webb quickly immersed himself in Berkeley's liberal landscape.
“It was a great experience and it was different," he said, "but I was prepared for it and my teammates helped me along the way.”
He made it an easy transition, but it wasn't one Webb ever expected to make. He broke Big 12 records as a true freshman at Texas Tech and ended his first season with an upset win over No. 15 Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl, earning MVP honors. His efforts on the field even helped force 2016 Heisman runner up Baker Mayfield to transfer to Oklahoma. But a torn left labrum and a subsequent ankle injury limited him to eight games as a sophomore and he eventually lost his starting job to Patrick Mahomes II (another top prospect in the 2017 draft). In Webb's junior year, head coach Kliff Kingsbury went with Mahomes, spurring Webb's transfer.
Webb initially signed financial aid papers in January 2016 to enroll in the University of Colorado, but when Cal hired Jake Spavital -- who Webb calls the best offensive coordinator in the country -- he maintained an open mind.
And there was one specific attribute that cemented Cal as the gunslinger's final decision.
"It’s 'QB U.' It really is," Webb professed. "It’s kinda 'Silent QB U,'" he added, rattling off a list of the school's first-round draft picks.
The decision to join Cal in 2016 put Webb at the helm of former head coach Sonny Dykes' Air Raid Offense.
“Everybody wants to hate on the Air Raid system, but it’s a fun game and without the Air Raid system I wouldn’t be where I’m at today,” Webb said.
At Texas Tech, Webb experienced the highs and lows of a college athlete on the biggest stage. After losing his job, a sour taste could have followed him to Cal. But Webb took the same approach he always has — to lead on and off the field. Webb was named a captain after just eight weeks at Cal, a goal he made coming to the school after wearing the "C" for Texas Tech.
Academically, Webb maintained just under a 4.0 GPA in Cal’s graduate public health school. Webb is taking a break from his studies to pursue an NFL career, but he understands Cal's academic prestige, and, with one third of his graduate degree complete, Webb vows to finish what he started.
“To get a Cal degree is something not many people can say and I want that degree, and I’m gonna get it” Webb said. “It’s just a matter of needing a little break right now and focusing on my football abilities. Having that public health degree, being the No. 1 public institution in the country isn’t something I take lightly.”
With most of Cal’s games coming on Saturdays, Webb knocked out as much schoolwork as possible on Sundays and Mondays and then it was all football for him, either in the facilities or on the field from 7:30 a.m. to nearly 11 p.m. every day.
“It was a great day. It was a great three months that I had there and I’m never gonna forget it,” Webb said.
Four years of college at two different schools put Webb on a long, winding road toward the draft. Through it all, Webb moves on from collegiate sports bleeding just under 10,000 yards and 83 touchdowns of Red Raider and Golden Bear blood.
“I got everything I wanted out of Cal and then some,” says Webb. “I’m gonna call Cal my home for the rest of my life. Cal and Texas Tech are always gonna have a place in my heart. I’m just thankful Cal gave me an opportunity. I’m gonna go back there and get my degree and be around Cal as much as I can for the rest of my life.”
Three months on campus is all it took for the Texas-made quarterback to fall in love with Berkeley. With unfinished business in the classroom, he will be back in the Bay Area — perhaps for the long haul in the place he can already call home.
Check out Part 1 of our interview with Davis Webb as he looks at the NFL Combine and how he's preparing to separate himself from the other quarterbacks in the 2017 draft class.