Alabama's Luther Davis Finds 'Positive Energy' in Preparation Work for NFL
Davis, a four-year performer along the defensive line at the University of Alabama, treats each day as an opportunity, not a hurdle, as he works to improve his NFL Draft stock.
"It's all good positive energy," Davis told FanHouse.
"Everyone here looks forward to seeing each other every day; we are all competing and pushing each other. Each day, I am just trying to do everything I can do to become a better player at the next level."
Davis is among an elite group of former collegiate football players working under the tutelage of coach Tom Shaw at Walt Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. Shaw, a renowned speed and conditioning coach, has trained athletes for two decades and was among the first to open his doors to players hoping to impress NFL personnel.
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Jay Cutler, Ike Taylor recent Hall of Fame inductee Deion Sanders have gone through Shaw's program.
Shaw, who has three Super Bowl rings from his days working with Brady and the New England Patriots, earned their confidence through drills and exercises that emphasize his SPARQ philosophy: Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness.
"I do want them to run fast, I do want them to jump high, I do want them to be explosive. But some camps, that's all they worry about," Shaw recently told FanHouse. "Our job is to help them make the 53-man roster."
Players stay at nearby resort condos, and their training program can last up to 12 weeks. Many arrived early January and stay through their respective school's Pro Day in March.
Shaw's staff also includes a physical therapist, nutritionist, massage therapist, orthopedic surgeon, media consultant and "everything else you can imagine that kids are going to need for preparation, recovering and regeneration," said Shaw.
Although teams have hours of game tapes and scouting reports on prospects, individual Pro Days and the NFL combine results also are key to the decision-making process for the NFL Draft.
Davis certainly understands the program's importance.
Despite playing primarily in a backup role at Alabama with five career starts, there's no denying Davis' overall talent and skills. At 6-feet-3, 280 pounds, Davis, 22, has also improved his strength and speed under Shaw.
"Coach Shaw has been extremely supportive," Davis said.
"I've focusing on improving my bench press and strength. I know there are a lot of questions surrounding my 40 time of what I can run and what I can't run, but I am very capable and not concerned. It's going to happen. I've been focusing on getting bigger, stronger and more explosive; just doing everything I can do every day."
Davis made a big career leap for the Crimson Tide, helping Alabama's defense finish fifth nationally in total defense last year. Many believe it may have been coordinator Kirby Smart's best job because the unit returned just two starters from the 2009 national championship team.
While Davis did not register a career sack at defensive end, he still proved disruptive and played in 46 career games (he also won the Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award following 2010 spring practice). Alabama, for instance, held Michigan State to 171 total yards in its 49-7 Capital Bowl victory and most dominant performance all season.
"It's like where did those four years go, they went by so quickly," said Davis, who selected Alabama over LSU out of high school. "The college life and the friendships developed, I will cherish the rest of my life."
Davis' life, of course, has changed -- he says for the better -- since he arrived in Orlando.
"This is hard, hard work but we are also have a great time," Davis said. "I couldn't have made a better decision to come here and train under coach Shaw."