Former TCU teammates Johnston, Davis and Duggan start NFL careers with Chargers
Fri, May 12, 2023
Other News (AP)
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) - Quentin Johnston's first practice in the NFL felt similar to the ones he had in college at TCU.
Derius Davis was lined up next to him at the other wide receiver spot and they caught passes from Max Duggan.
But instead of the Horned Frogs' practice field, it was the opening session of the Los Angeles Chargers' rookie minicamp.
Johnston was the 21st overall selection by the Bolts two weeks ago, while Davis was picked in the fourth round and Duggan in the seventh.
"It almost feels identical. It feels like we're back in Fort Worth again," Johnston of the Friday morning session.
This was the first time since the common draft era started in 1967 that a team has selected a quarterback and multiple skill position players from the same school in a single draft.
"Obviously, the first day, you get to come in and it's a bunch of new guys and throwing with them," Duggan said. "With Q (Johnston) and D.D. (Davis), I know them a little bit and have some timing, but it was fun to be out there with them."
Johnston - who had 60 receptions for 1,069 yards and eight touchdowns last season as TCU reached the national title game - acknowledged he felt as if he was still in draft mode until Friday morning, when he started taking part in meetings and got on the field.
Johnston has also had a chance to catch up with his new teammates. Veteran receivers Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer visited Johnston at his hotel during his first trip to LA after being drafted.
"Kind of a crash course they gave me of what to expect, how stuff is run, a baseline so that I could get an understanding and feel for the football team, as much as I can at that point," said Johnston about the meeting.
The reason Johnston was selected was his ability to stretch the field. He averaged 8.9 yards after the catch during his career at TCU, which is one area where the Chargers have been lacking in recent seasons.
Duggan, a Heisman finalist and the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Year, is in the mix to compete with Easton Stick for the backup QB spot since Justin Herbert is entrenched as the franchise quarterback.
When it comes to differences between college and the NFL, Duggan said the concepts are similar but there are other things to pick up.
"I think there's probably a little bit more on your plate as a quarterback in this league for protections, variations, tagging certain routes and things of that sort," he said. "I think it just kind of comes on a bigger scale. It's something that I'm learning to do. I'm excited to try and get on it."
Davis got plenty of work in offensive drills, but his main contribution is expected to come on special teams as the kickoff and punt returner. He ran back five punts and one kickoff for scores during his career, including two last season.
Of the three, Davis seemed to be having the most fun practicing with his longtime teammates.
"Max, he's been my quarterback ever since he got to TCU," he said. "It was just great to get back out there, to run routes with him. We know we already have a connection, so the timing was really on. To have Q out there working beside me - we were kind of winded, so we were out there joking about it.
"It was good to be out there with those guys."
While the three TCU players have a common bond, Chargers coach Brandon Staley noted that this is a new learning process.
"You may know each other, but everything you're learning is brand new, so you almost feel like a freshman again," he said.
Johnston, Davis and Duggan signed their rookie contracts before hitting the field for practice.
Linebacker Daiyan Henley (third round), offensive lineman Jordan McFadden (fifth round) and defensive lineman Scott Matlock also signed, leaving defensive lineman Tuli Tuipulotu (second round) as the only member of the draft class not under contract.
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