Editor’s note: This is the second of our annual four-part Fresh Faces series, focusing on players in new roles for Illinois State. Next: On Wednesday, learn about a big addition to the Western Illinois offensive line.
As a young quarterback growing up in Mississippi, Brady Davis didn’t have to look far for a role model at his position.
“I grew up watching a lot of Brett Favre,” Davis said. “He’s a Mississippi guy as well. I try to emulate his game. I’m going to definitely try to stretch it down the field and make those big throws and try to fit it into tight windows. Kind of a gunslinger approach.”
Davis, who spent the past three years at Memphis, has an opportunity to make a Favre-like impact on Illinois State’s offense. The junior was chosen as the team’s new starting quarterback last week and is among four key fresh faces for the Redbirds this season.
“I like to do my work out of the pocket, if possible,” Davis said. “If it does break down up front, which I don’t think it will, I can extend plays and keep my eyes downfield.”
The 6-foot-4 Davis won the job over senior and two-year starter Jake Kolbe of Naperville. This fall, Davis expects to lean on Kolbe regularly.
“Jake Kolbe has done more for this program than I have or anybody else on this team,” Davis said. “That dude is the ultimate teammate. I can’t be more thankful to be in the same room as him. I think he’s going help me out a lot. We’re in a great situation having both of us.”
In 2014, Indiana transfer Tre Roberson played quarterback masterfully with Kurt Beathard as offensive coordinator. The Redbirds advanced all the way to the FCS national title game.
With Beathard returning this season and another transfer quarterback as the starter, big things could be ahead for the Redbirds.
“I’ve watched tape on Tre Roberson, and I’m not that freakish of an athlete,” Davis said with a laugh. “Don’t expect that out of me.”
Davis does have big expectations for the deep and talented running back trio of juniors James Robinson and Markel Smith, along with sophomore Jordan Birch.
“The defense is going to have to do something to stop them,” Davis said. “We’re going to push the ball down the field (in the passing game), and we’re also going to give the ball to our Three-Headed Monster running backs that we have.
“I don’t know if that’s been said before, but I’m going to give them that name,” Davis joked.
Other fresh faces this season for the Redbirds will include:
Austin Nagel, wide receiver, freshman
As a high school senior at Lemont last season, Nagel averaged more than 15 yards a catch while helping his team to the state quarterfinals.
Among a young wide receiver group, Nagel is a true freshman who could help Davis ignite the passing game.
Romeo McKnight, defensive end, sophomore
McKnight was the state’s No. 9 prospect as a high school senior at Crystal Lake Central.
After two seasons at Iowa, including a campaign last fall that ended prematurely because of injury, the 6-5, 250-pound McKnight provides the Redbirds with an athletic pass rusher.
Tuvone Clark, linebacker, junior
He started only two games last season, but Clark could help the Redbirds replace leading tackler Tyree Horton’s 75 stops from last season. Horton was dismissed from the team as the 2018 season approached.