Ashtyn Davis hoping to take underdog mentality onto the field with the New York Jets

Kristian Dyer

Ashtyn Davis said his identity is still the player who walked onto Cal’s football team, the former track star evolving into an all-conference safety in college. He carries that same mentality to the New York Jets as he challenges for a starting role as a rookie.

A third round pick of the Jets in April’s NFL Draft, Davis went from a shock selection by a team that featured the steady Marcus Maye and an All-Pro safety in Jamal Adams to now being in a position battle to start alongside Maye. The trade of Adams three weeks ago to the Seattle Seahawks has opened up playing time for Davis.

“I haven’t even thought that far ahead,” Davis told reporters on Friday. “I’m just trying to learn from Marcus and the guys that have a better understanding of the scheme and technique – I’ll play whatever role is assigned to me.”

In many ways, Davis is still raw to the game of football. Although he is became an All-Pac 12 selection at Cal, he’s still learning and evolving from being an athlete who can play football into becoming a football player in his own right.

The presence of Maye, underappreciated because he played next to a big star in Adams, is helping the adjustment process for Davis.

“He’s been here the longest, so he’s obviously had some success at the position and so I’m trying to learn from him and see what coach D (defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson) wants and just trying to learn as much as I can from him,” Davis said.

On Thursday in a conference call with the media, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams talked about Davis, raving about the rookie’s ability to grasp things while also mentioning that he’s an exceptionally hard worker. Williams turned Adams into an All-Pro safety last year and with Davis’ speed, could be able to use his versatility all over the secondary.

“I love the fact that he had to walk on and he had to do everything he could to just get a scholarship and get some time at the college level to play,” Williams said. “But he’s done very well with everything we’ve seen, he’s going to have to slow down mentally and that’s what happens when any young guy comes into our league and this league is not one of those things where you just do a couple of things and let him go.”

Williams said that making an impact on special teams – Davis was a renowned gunner in college – could help him get a comfort level to transition to a prominent role on the defense.

“I’m a fast guy and special teams is just defense in space so it’s a good opportunity to show that I can do the things I need to do on defense as well as making a contribution on the field,” Davis said.

“I’m competitive so as long as I’m on the football field so when I’m out on the field, regardless of what it is, I like doing it.”

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