“What did I do wrong?”
Texas Tech Quarterback Davis Webb didn’t understand what went wrong. Why wasn’t he the starting quarterback? After Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury named fellow freshman Baker Mayfield the starter, Webb was certainly disappointed. After enrolling early at Tech, he was almost sure that the quarterback job was his.
Coming out of Prosper High School in the Dallas area, Webb was a highly touted recruit. With offers from big time programs like TCU, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and of course Texas Tech, the decision was never necessarily a hard one.
“Since my sophomore year of high school, I had dreamed of playing quarterback at Texas Tech,” Webb said. “I fell in love with Lubbock. After my first time out here I told my dad on the long ride home, that I want to be the QB at Tech one day, win the first big 12 championship, and get my jersey in the QB section, which had Coach Kingsbury’s and several other Tech legends. He leaned over and said ‘you better get a lot better’. I really tried to consider other schools, but all along I knew this was the place for me.”
Of course, when you add in the young and energetic Kingsbury as the new head coach, the spread offense and the style Kingsbury brings to each team he’s coached would make Tech an enticing landing place for any quarterback coming out of high school.
“Ever since Coach was at Houston, I told my dad I want to play for him,” Webb said. “I liked his style, the way his QBs responded and interacted with him, the way he loves to throw it around, and the way he played the position not too long ago. We have always been close, and through the ups and downs we have gotten closer. We have a lot in coming with each of us being coach’s kids, being the same size, same type of QB, and same dreams of playing in the NFL and coaching in college. We are very similar people, we work hard and respect each other.”
After choosing Tech and Kingsbury, Webb was poised to step in and make an immediate impact. However, one of the biggest factors in Webb losing out on the starting job stemmed from an illness that caused him to lose almost 40 pounds at the beginning of the season, as the 6’4 QB fell from 212 to 168 pounds in a short period of time.
“It was definitely rough to lose all of that weight at the beginning of the season,” Webb said.
Despite originally losing out on the job, the always motivated Webb stuck with it and worked harder than ever. With lots of support from close family and friends, he was ready for his chance to take over.
“I thank the people closest to me,” Webb said. “My mom and dad, grandparents, Coach Atkinson, and my roommates Jace, Kenny, and Brad for always being there for me through a rough, rough time. They all knew the quarterback I could become, so I just kept working and made sure that once I got my chance, I would be ready, and I would take advantage of it.”
That chance came a lot quicker than some might have expected, as Webb got into a big time game early in the season with a chance to make an impact. Facing off against a 24th ranked TCU team, Mayfield went down with an injury in the fourth quarter. Needing a quarterback to come in and rally the Red Raiders to a victory, Kingsbury turned to Webb, who drove the team down the field for the go ahead scoring drive.
“We needed a quarterback going in to make plays,” Kingsbury said immediately following the game. “Like I said, to stay focused through all this and not get his head down, not pout, and just come out and compete. That's what you're looking for.”
After the TCU win, Webb led Texas Tech to wins over Texas State, Kansas, Iowa State, and West Virginia before things started to go downhill. An eight point loss to Oklahoma ended the Raider winning streak, and blowout losses to Oklahoma State and Kansas State led to the insertion of Mayfield back into the starting lineup. However, it wasn’t long until Webb would get another shot, this time on an even bigger stage.
After Mayfield announced his decision to leave Tech and transfer to Oklahoma prior to the Holiday Bowl, Webb was listed as the starter yet again. Playing against Arizona State, Webb had one of the most prolific games in the bowls history, throwing for 403 yards and four touchdowns. In a game that Arizona State was favored to win by 14 points, Webb picked apart the Sun Devil defense on the way to 14 point Raider victory.
“He stepped up big on third downs and made plays,” Kingsbury said following the win. “I’m just proud of Davis' mental toughness. He continued to work, never blinked an eye and when he had his moment he made the most of it.”
Through all of the ups and downs, Kingsbury believes that Webb will benefit from the ups and downs of last season.
“It will definitely make Davis mentally tougher moving forward,” Kingsbury said. “He never wavered through any of it, and came out a much better player.”
Kingsbury was asked to describe Webb in just one word, and used one that almost everyone around the Quarterback would agree with: “Relentless”. With one season under his belt, Webb has undoubtedly changed for the better since last spring.
“It’s night and day,” Webb said. “I’m a more vocal leader, I’m stronger, and I feel like it’s my team. I feel like I have the tools to help this team win the Big 12.”
This season, the Red Raiders will certainly have more continuity with the sophomore taking over the QB duties full time, and Webb has two goals for next year: be the best teammate in the Big 12, and to win the conference championship.
“If they have an award for that, I want it,” Webb said. “I can’t control a lot, but I can control my attitude on and off the field.”
With the conference championship set as the goal for next year, Kingsbury has a lot of confidence in Webb to lead the team to success.
“We have become closer and built up trust over the past year,” Kingsbury said. “I’m as confident as I have ever been with any starting QB.”
With the college football season getting closer and closer, Webb’s first season as the full time starting QB nears as well. As the opening game between the Red Raiders and Central Arkansas on August 30 draws near, Kingsbury has just two words for football fans.