You might think that for someone who broke all of Brett Favre's records at the University of Southern Mississippi, a chance to play in the NFL would come easy. However, that has not been the case for current St. Louis Rams and former USM quarterback Austin Davis.
In fact, Davis didn't have an easy road to his record-breaking career for the Golden Eagles. Even after being the winningest quarterback in Collinsville, Miss.'s West Lauderdale High School history and being chosen to participate in the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Game, Davis didn't receive many college football offers.
Davis instead went to USM for baseball and walked on to the football team. The Golden Eagles redshirted him in the 2007 season, and he got a chance to be the starter for the 2008 season as a redshirt freshman.
As a four-year starter for Southern Miss, Davis compiled a 30-15 record in his 45 starts. By the time his career at USM was over, Davis owned every major passing record for single game and career in school history.
In his final season with the Golden Eagles in 2011, Davis won the Conerly Trophy as the state's best football player. He also led Southern Miss to a Conference USA East title. The highlight of the season was a 49-28 win over sixth-ranked Houston in the C-USA Championship Game.
There were more than a few knocks on Davis heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, though. Many scouts didn't like his arm strength, thought he was too short, that he played in the shotgun at USM and that he was a product of then-coach Larry Fedora's system.
Because of those perceptions, Davis went undrafted and signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent. St Louis wouldn't activate the quarterback for any part of the 2012 season.
Heading into 2013, the Rams cut Davis, who then signed with the Miami Dolphins practice squad. In October of 2013, Davis returned to St Louis as the Rams backup quarterback, for Kellen Clemens after starter Sam Bradford was lost for the season with a knee injury. Davis didn't play a down in 2013 either.
A healthy Bradford returned to St. Louis this season, the team signed Shaun Hill to be the backup and drafted Garrett Gilbert in the sixth round out of SMU. Davis was expected to battle with Gilbert for the third string job.
After Bradford reinjured the same knee in the third preseason game, he didn't make it to the regular season. That left Hill the starter until he was injured in the team's first regular-season game against the Vikings.
Hill left the game at halftime with a quadriceps injury. That meant Davis would see his first NFL action.
Davis finished the game, throwing for 192 yards while completing 16 of 23 attempts with one interception as the Rams fell 34-6 to the Vikings. He got his first NFL start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the next week.
The former Southern Miss star went 22 for 29 in pass attempts for 235 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He would lead the Rams to a late field goal for the 19-17 win—the first of the season for St. Louis.
Davis started this past week against the Dallas Cowboys. He went 327 yards on 30 of 42 attempts with three touchdowns and two interceptions. His last interception sealed the 34-31 comeback victory for the Cowboys.
Currently Davis is ninth in the NFL in passing yards with 754 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. His 72.3 percent completion percentage is better than Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Davis has a 93.1 quarterback rating, which is better than Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning, Brady, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger. He averages 251 yards passed per game.
St Louis head coach Jeff Fisher has stated once Hill is healthy, he will be the starter, but I think the Rams should go with Davis. Hill is in his 13th year in the league and Davis is in his second. At 25, Davis is nine years younger than the 35-year-old Hill.
Davis should get his shot to prove he is the future of the organization at quarterback. He has proved over the last two and half games that he can play in the NFL.
St. Louis has a bye week this week before playing the Eagles in Philadelphia. Davis should be under center when the Rams play on Oct. 5, or Fisher doesn't know a potential franchise quarterback when the rest of us see one.