Cal quarterback Davis Webb sees some similarities between Tom Brady and himself.
Not on the field—Webb says no one can compare to what Brady does between the white lines—but in their ability to persevere.
“The thing I love about Tom Brady most is his off-the-field story. The adversity he’s had to persevere his whole life,” Webb told STACK. “There were just so many things he had to get through to get where he is today. But he kept grinding, he kept going and he does carry a chip on his shoulder. He feels like he’s not wanted still. He wants to earn his spot every single day. I’ve watched The Brady 6 a thousand times, I can just about name every single line in that documentary. He’s someone I look up to.”
Webb knows perseverance. During his first year of football in 7th grade, he was a back-up quarterback on the B-team. The next season, he was a back-up on the C-team. But he kept working hard, eventually earning the starting job at Prosper High School in Prosper, Texas. Strong junior and senior seasons led to a number of college offers.
Webb ended up signing with Texas Tech, where he started several games during his freshman season and set a number of school records. But eight games into his sophomore season, he suffered a season-ending ankle injury. During this period, he also underwent shoulder surgery.
Patrick Mahomes took over the starting job in Webb’s absence, and he retained his grip on the QB1 spot even after Webb returned to full health. Webb, who was named a captain at Texas Tech, backed up Mahomes for the 2015 season. After such a fast start to his college career, suddenly becoming a back-up was a tough adjustment.
The situation led Webb to transfer to Cal for his senior season. It took him just eight weeks with his new teammates to be elected a team captain. He went on to throw for 4,295 yards and 37 touchdowns in Cal’s explosive offense. Now, his strong arm and big frame (he measured 6-foot-5, 229 pounds at the Combine) have draft analysts pondering just how high he’ll go.
It’s hard to imagine Brady was ever an underdog. Given his five Super Bowl rings, 12 Pro Bowl selections and two MVP awards, it’s easy to forget the road Brady had to follow to get here. But like Webb, Brady never had anything handed to him.
As a quarterback at Serra High School in San Mateo, California, Brady received almost no recruiting attention until he decided to make his own highlight tape and send it to schools around the country. Michigan eventually gave him an offer, but his career there was filled with ups and downs. When he enrolled at Michigan, he was seventh on the quarterback depth chart. On his first official pass from scrimmage, Brady threw a pick-6 against UCLA. When Brian Griese was named the starting quarterback during the 1997 season, Brady debated transferring. However, he continued to work hard and went on to start every game during the 1998 season—though he was forced to split reps with Drew Henson, a highly touted five-star recruit.
Brady persevered through it all. He was named a captain his senior season and performed brilliantly, leading the Wolverines to a 10-2 record. When it came time for the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady was once again an underdog. His scouting report was far from glowing, and he stayed on the board until the New England Patriots selected him with the 199th overall pick. He played in just one game as a rookie (completing one of three pass attempts), but he got his shot when Drew Bledsoe was injured during the 2001 season. Brady took the reins and never looked back.
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Considering the similarities in their paths to the NFL, it’s no wonder that Webb idolizes Brady. Like Brady, Webb prepares and plays with a chip on his shoulder. “The first thing I think when I wake up is ‘who do I want to prove wrong today?’ I was a 7th grade B-team back-up quarterback. I was an 8th grade C-team back-up quarterback. Those were my first two years of football, so I’ve been doubted just about my entire football career. I’ve proved a lot of people wrong along the way,” Webb said.
Though scouts and GMs have drawn comparisons between him and Brady, Webb said he doesn’t give them much thought. “A lot of people have drawn comparisons to Tom Brady, whether that be scouts, GMs at the Senior Bowl, a lot of people have said that. But that goes right over my head. [He’s] the greatest quarterback of all time,” Webb said. “I just want to be the best possible version of myself I can. I think there’s a lot of similarities in our college experience, being a back-up and proving people wrong. But he’s Tom Brady, he’s the best ever. You can’t do that. He’s the best ever and I don’t want to be compared to him because no one ever will be. He’s the Michael Jordan of football.”