It’s says a lot about the 2015 edition of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers when all the rage following the team’s final practice of the regular season is about another quarterback making his first professional start.
With a 5-12 record and the chance of earning an improbable berth into the playoffs officially gone as of late last week, the Blue and Gold will turn to 26-year-old Dominique Davis, their fifth starting quarterback this season — yes, you read that correctly — when they take the field in the season finale against the Argonauts Friday night in Toronto.
“It’s an honour to get this call and even though this game isn’t meaningful (in the standings), it means a lot to a lot of individuals who don’t get a lot of playing time,” said Davis, a native of Lakeland, Fla., who has been with the Bombers since Week 2 but has yet to play a single snap.
“This is big for us.”
It’s particularly big for Davis, who has had little opportunity this season outside of practice to show his stuff. As was the case with the other four quarterbacks — Drew Willy, Brian Brohm, Robert Marve and Matt Nichols — to start for the Bombers this year, Davis has some intrigue to him, too.
After a collegiate career that included stops at Boston College, Fort Scott Community College and East Carolina University, Davis signed as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2012, spending two seasons there.
After being released from Atlanta, followed by two failed stints with Tennessee and Indianapolis, Davis landed in Canada, where he signed with the Stampeders and then with the Bombers.
All of this isn’t to simply excite you with his resumé. After all, many players in the CFL have similar backgrounds. But given the emergence of number of young quarterbacks in the CFL this season — Trevor Harris in Toronto, James Franklin in Edmonton, Rakeem Cato in Montreal and Jonathon Jennings in B.C. to name a few — the chance to see what Davis has to offer does add, if anything, a little pizazz in what will otherwise be a meaningless affair Friday.
Even though the feel-good meter is high right now for Davis, that doesn’t mean there aren’t nerves. There’s a reason he hasn’t taken a snap all season, and Davis understands this could be a make-or-break opportunity as the Bombers brass head into the off-season with some serious decisions to make.
“The butterflies will get there but once I get that first throw, that first hit in, everything should be fine,” said Davis.
It also bodes well coach Mike O’Shea seems to like what he sees in Davis and feels his team’s chances are as good as any to claim a much-desired win to close out the season.
“He’s a good kid, he works really hard and he’s smart and he’s athletic. There’s a good starting formula for him to have success,” said O’Shea. “You assume he’s going to do well and I’m pulling for the kid to have a great game, not only for himself but for us too, and that’s what I expect.”
But if there’s anything to learn from the 2015 edition of the Bombers, high expectations don’t always pan out.
-- Jeff Hamilton