UM's Davis has agent, will enter NFL draft

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Maryland tight end Vernon Davis will not return for his senior year because he has hired an agent and officially declared for the NFL draft, he said yesterday from a training facility in Arizona.

Davis, who was the Terps' leading receiver this past season, said the league should receive his paperwork this week. He said NFL officials told him he is likely to be selected in the first round, which made his decision easy.

"I knew if I had a good season I'd probably think about leaving," said Davis, who was the Atlantic Coast Conference's leader in receiving yards per game with 79.2. "There wasn't anything holding me back, but I knew if they told me I'd get a first-round grade I was going to leave."

Davis, a graduate of Dunbar High School in Washington, said he informed Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen of his decision after the Terps' 5-6 season.

"He came to his senses and realized I really wanted to go," Davis said. "He supports me."

Friedgen was not immediately available for comment.

Davis hired his agent, Zeke Sandhu from Lock, Metz and Malinovic sports agency, after Christmas. Because he has an agent, NCAA rules prohibit Davis from playing next season.

"His chances are great," Sandhu said. "He's just preparing for all the drills and everything the NFL is going to put him through."

Davis began training at Athletes' Performance in Tempe, Ariz., yesterday. Peggy Iralson, a spokeswoman for the facility, said Davis' agent pays for his training.

Iralson said Davis began to go through evaluations and tests yesterday in preparation for the Feb. 20 NFL combine in Indianapolis. Davis said he'd like to wind up with the Oakland Raiders or New York Jets because of their locations.

"I'm very excited," Davis said. "It's not overwhelming to me or anything like that; everything is the same. I'm just taking my time. Right now, I'm just looking to get better as an athlete, perform up to the highest level I'm able to perform and show everybody what I can do."

Davis, who recorded about 3 percent body fat when last tested at Maryland, will go through a series of tests today with physical therapists that will reveal any limiting factors or hidden injuries that might hinder his performance.

He also will be tested again in a 40-yard dash and the bench press, as well as meet with a metabolic specialist to determine his conditioning level.

"Once we get them through the gate and evaluated," Iralson said, "it's our goal to prepare them to have the most successful NFL combine possible."

Davis, a 6-foot-3, 253-pound Associated Press All-American and finalist for the John Mackey Award, which is given to the nation's top tight end, led the Terps with 51 catches for 871 yards and six touchdowns.

He said he played a part in recruiting Drew Gloster, Maryland's incoming tight end who has visions of filling Davis' shoes. Gloster, of Good Counsel High School in Germantown, is rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com.

"It's going to take him some time," Davis said. "He's got to learn the offense. I'm not expecting the guy to come in and fill my shoes right away. I'd say by the time he's a sophomore he should be OK."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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