He registered 149 tackles this past season and was rewarded with a lucrative contract extension. From fifth-round pick to set for life is a pretty good four year run.
Davis’ next dream is post-season play and it appears Cleveland is serious about making a run in that direction with a very busy free agent signing period. Willie McGinest and Ted Washington have been brought in to strengthen the defense while the best center on the market, former Saints blocker LeCharles Bentley will head up a rebuilt offensive line.
I recently visited with Andra to talk about his time this far in the NFL and what the future looks like for the Browns.
LV: Andra, tell me about life in Cleveland.
AD: It’s good. We’ve been making moves since they settled everything with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement). We had a lot of money to spend and it’s already been proven that they (management) are going to head it in the right direction. We signed a lot of our key players back and we’re spending a lot of money in free agency too get some real good players too.
LV: You’re one of those key players they took care of, how does it feel to be secure and know one of your big goals has been taken care of?
AD: It just shows that hard work pays off. It’s truly a blessing to be able to continue to compete at that level. Here at the University of Florida we get to play with a lot of great athletes. But to take it to the next level, the NFL and compete week in and week out is a life long dream.
LV: Has any of your success exceeded even your own hopes and expectations?
AD: I feel like right now, everybody categorizes me as a middle of the pack linebacker. I’m not a Ray Lewis or one of those guys, but I’m not one of the lower tier guys, either. I’ve accomplished a lot of good things, but I want to be one of those top guys. I want to earn respect around the league. I don’t want to be an average linebacker.
LV: Isn’t a lot of that a team goal, because no matter how many tackles you make (149 in ’05) the players on winning teams are the ones that really get noticed?
AD: You’re right, and we’re definitely headed in the right direction with our coaching staff and management we have.
LV: What do you want to see the Browns do on the draft day? You have the 12th pick in the first round.
AD: I’ll just leave that up to the management. They’ll do the right things and they have a great track record. Coach Romeo (Crennel) has brought a winning spirit to Cleveland and it’s definitely rubbing off on all the guys and the sky’s the limit for our team.
LV: How much does it help that Coach Crennel has been there and that he’s held that trophy and wears that ring?
AD: It helps a whole lot because he doesn’t have to talk about it as just something he wants to do. His first day, when he had his first meeting he wore all of his rings. Just to see those rings motivates you even more. I mean anybody can talk about being a champion, but this guy has been a champion five times (2X NY Giants, 3X New England). Sometimes he just takes those big rings off and leaves them on the podium so everyone can walk by and see them.
LV: So what was it like watching the Steelers win it all? You guys don’t really like those guys.
AD: They’re a great team and they really play hard. They’ve been together forever, their coaching staff and their system. This is the first year for us keeping the same coaches and same system since I’ve been there. Up until this year I’ve been there four years and had four different coaches. That’s a big part of it, the chemistry between the players and coaches. They won the Super Bowl and they deserve it, but we’re going to get to that level.
LV: Finally, have you gotten a chance to get to know Coach Meyer and the rest of the staff?
AD: This is the first time I’ve been able to come back and stay while the coaches have been around since I left school. When the season was over I came down and met Coach Mattison and, you know I always knew Coach Strong. But when I met Coach Meyer he was on his way to the airport to pick somebody up so we just missed each other. But Jarvis talks very highly of him all the time and I know he thinks highly of Jarvis, also. He (Coach Meyer) gets a lot of love from Ohio because that’s where he’s from. There’s a lot of people in Ohio that love him and they also speak very well of him. We know that the program is going to be back at the top and we will always support them. The guys in the NFL that played balk here like me, Reche (Caldwell), Alex (Brown), Money (Gerard Warren), M&M (Marquand Manuel), Jabbar (Gaffney) we always wear out Gator stuff on Saturdays. And we always will, win, lose or draw. Once a Gator, always a Gator.
Andra Davis wasn’t a superstar with the Gators. He earned All-SEC honors just once, as a fifth-year senior. He led the teams in tackles just that year alone. Yet he has gone from the fifth-round to a millionaire in four incredible years. He’s proof that you don’t have to be a five-star recruit or first round draft pick to have great success. Those things give you a big head start, but Andra Davis only needed an inch… and he took a mile.