UH's Davone Bess to pass on senior year
By Stephen Tsai
By Stephen Tsai
Davone Bess, the most prolific receiver in University of Hawai'i football history, yesterday applied for the National Football League draft, ending his Warrior career after three seasons.
"It wasn't an easy decision," said Bess, an All-America slotback from Oakland, Calif. "I'm close to graduating. And the people of Hawai'i have been great. I'll always have a place in my heart for Hawai'i. It'll always be my second home."
But Bess said several factors led him to decide "it was time."
A three-member evaluation committee predicted that Bess has the football skills to be selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft in April. Players considering early entry to the NFL may seek an evaluation from a committee of pro-personnel officials.
That NFL grade, combined with his third consecutive strong season — he finished as UH's career leader in receptions (293) and touchdowns (41) — and good health, eased the way for Bess' decision.
"I talked it over with my family," said Bess, who went home to Oakland after the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl. "You just can't pass up an opportunity like that. I've been blessed to have three good seasons at Hawai'i, and to be consistent in my stats. I'm ready to start a new phase in my life, to take on the next challenge."
Bess, who is 5 feet 10 and 195 pounds, was scheduled to play for Oregon State in 2003.
But that summer, he was convicted of possessing stolen goods. He spent 15 months in a juvenile detention camp.
He enrolled at UH in January 2005, and emerged as the starting left slotback (and successor to Chad Owens).
"I'm always going to be grateful to the fans and the state," Bess said. "Hawai'i gave me a second chance. If it wasn't for the state accepting me, I wouldn't be in this situation. I give them all of the credit in the world."
A week after the Dec. 1 Washington game, head coach June Jones sent the NFL an evaluation application for Bess. Jones requested a six-member committee. But with the large number of underclassmen seeking evaluations, a three-member group was assigned to assess Bess.
He received the results the day after the Sugar Bowl.
After consulting with his family, Bess applied for the draft yesterday morning. In the afternoon, he signed with agent Kenny Zuckerman. By retaining an agent, Bess forfeited the option of returning to UH for his senior season.
Zuckerman said the second-round grade is "an estimate based on football talent."
Zuckerman said Bess' actual draft status will be determined by the number of underclassmen and receivers who are eligible for the draft, and Bess' performance in combines, pre-draft workouts and interviews.
"You have to put all of that in a pot with the second-round grade," Zuckerman said.
A second-round draft pick can command a four-year contract and bonuses worth about $3 million.
Bess said financial considerations did not factor greatly in his decision.
"It's not one of the important things," Bess said. "Of course, I want to take care of my family. But I made my decision on the grade, being injury free, and wanting to start a new phase in my life."
Zuckerman said Bess will train at Priority Sports and Entertainment's performance facility in Arizona.
Zuckerman said he expects Bess to be invited to next month's NFL combine in Indianapolis.
Bess said he is anxious to prove himself. He said the second-round grade helps overcome the criticism launched at the Warriors' four-wide passing offense.
"I've seen how a lot of people knocked Colt (Brennan) for being a 'system quarterback,' " Bess said. "They felt the same way with all of the receivers. I'm glad they paid attention to how we get open when plays break down or how we turn 5-yard outs into 50-yard gains. They canceled out the 'system receiver' thing."
Visit Tsai's blog at www.HawaiiWarriorBeat.com.
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