GREENVILLE — It’s not hard to tell how much work Dominique Davis has put in during the college football offseason.
Approaching his senior season at East Carolina after a dazzling debut in 2010 that featured a school record 3,967 pass yards and 46 total touchdowns, word among the team’s hierarchy is that Davis has become more of a traditional team leader during winter, spring and summer workouts.
But as the onset of preseason camp and the Pirates’ season opener against South Carolina looms, it’s Davis himself that stands out the most. Having already proven he has the perfect brain to run the high-powered offense at ECU, Davis now has the body to match.
“Everything on my body has gotten stronger, from my neck all the way to my ankles,” said Davis, who estimated his weight at 220 pounds, about seven more pounds than last year’s playing weight. He hopes to reach 225 by the start of the season. “When the season comes, I’ll see how well all the work has paid off.”
Such physical explosion is part of the plan of ECU strength and conditioning coach Jeff Connors.
The ultimate goal of winning the fourth quarter of every game the football team plays cannot be attained without supreme physical conditioning, and Davis is exemplifying the worth ethic Connors requires in the offseason.
“Dominique Davis is unquestionably one of the hardest workers and best leaders I’ve been around in the 24 years I’ve been a head strength and conditioning coach,” Connors said of the Pirates’ starting quarterback. “If I were to give him a nickname it would probably be ‘Full-tilt.’ That’s what he is 24/7. He’s the same every day.”
Last season, Davis became one of the most reliable passers in ECU’s decorated QB history. In addition to his single-season records in yards and TDs, Davis also unleashed an ECU-best 393 completions, shattering Patrick Pinkney’s previous mark of 259. His 305.2 pass yards per game average left Jeff Blake’s single-season mark of 279.4 in the dust as well.
But the return of Connors to ECU has meant for Davis and the Pirates a refresher course in mental and physical anguish, something which could propel Davis to even greater heights this season.
“We do a lot of mental toughness stuff,” Davis said of summer training. “It’s a lot of stuff where you’ve got to dig deep, and he really emphasizes thinking about the fourth quarter. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be tough — the worst you’ve ever done — but in the long run in the game, it’ll be easier.”
Connors undoubtedly has developed a keen eye for players who embrace his at times severe challenges, and those who don’t.
Not surprisingly, the same player who after transferring to ECU from Fort Scott Community College in Kansas faithfully stood on the sidelines and watched every single Pirate spring practice session in 2010 has made a lasting impression on his strength coach already.
“If an NFL scout comes in here and asks me questions about Dominique, I tell them he is the model guy, he’s what you want in every sense of the word,” Connors said of Davis.