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pakowitz 01-18-2003 10:37 PM

Davis, James represent LSU at Senior Bowl
Advocate sportswriter

A cat or dog?

Running back Domanick Davis has been asked to do a lot of things on a football field -- run, block, catch passes, return kicks and tackle, since he also played defensive back while at LSU.

But he's never been asked what he was asked this week at the 54th annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

"The pro teams have all these interviews with you, and one of the questions was, 'What would you rather be, a cat or a dog?' I said dog of course," Davis said.

So did former LSU linebacker Bradie James, who like Davis will be playing on the South team against the North college senior all-stars at 1 p.m. today in Ladd Peebles Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN.

"They also asked if you wanted to be a doctor or a nurse," James said. "Of course, I said doctor."

All 94 players in town, including Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Carson Palmer of USC, Doak Walker winning running back Larry Johnson of Penn State and Butkus award winning linebacker E.J. Henderson of Maryland, also take extensive written and oral tests to gauge personality and aptitude. They are also weighed, scrutinized and interviewed by the more than 900 NFL coaches, owners, general managers and other NFL personnel that yearly come to Mobile every winter in preparation for the spring NFL Draft.

Then they go to practice -- one a day from Monday through Thursday with a walk through on Friday.

Last year's Senior Bowl, which featured quarterback Rohan Davey of LSU, put a record 96 players on NFL rosters for the 2002 season. Ninety-three Senior Bowlers from 2002 were picked in the NFL draft, including 10 in the first round.

"This is the best all-star bowl to play in," said Davis, who gained 1,914 all-purpose yards for the Tigers in 2002. "It's a great chance to showcase your talent in front of everybody -- coaches, general managers, everybody."

James went as a fan last year to accompany Davey and LSU tight end Robert Royal, who each made NFL teams.

"They both thought they improved their stock a lot," James said.

Apparently, Davis and James did the same this week.

Former Michigan State head coach Bobby Williams, who used to work for LSU coach Nick Saban at Michigan State, just joined the Lions as their running backs coach and was impressed with Davis.

"He's had some very good practices," Williams said. "We threw quite a bit at him, and he seemed to have pretty good recall. I think he made quite an impression. He stood out. He made some plays. He sees things very well and has pretty good hands. I'm sure he's going to get quite a few balls thrown to him in the game, because we've got three pretty good quarterbacks."

In addition to Palmer on the South team, are quarterbacks Kliff Kingsbury of Texas Tech and Chris Simms of Texas.

Davis often lined up at receiver in practices.

"I heard some good reports on Davis," said Oscar Lofton, a San Francisco 49ers scout who lives in Hammond. "He showed some ability to run routes."

James, who played outside linebacker at LSU for three years before moving to the middle his senior year, worked primarily on the outside this week.

"I think the fact that I played both inside and outside will make me more marketable for a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense," James said.

"I saw Bradie face up and hit more people this week than I did in a lot of the LSU games I watched," Lofton said. "A lot of times in the games, he was running down people. But he stepped up and smacked some people this week. I think both players' stock is going up. Both take coaching well and are aggressive and pick up things quick."

James and Simms, who jawed at one another during Texas' 35-20 win over LSU in the Cotton Bowl, had a good-natured conversation after practice Monday.

"Man, when we went to two tight ends, we killed you guys," Simms told James.

"I knew you were going to do that," James said. "I told coach Saban."

Senior Bowl official Vic Knight said there would likely have been a third LSU player in today's game. That would've been safety Damien James, but James was removed from the team at midseason by Saban for repeated rules violations.

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