Countdown to kickoff: His 2001 season made No. 6 Rohan Davey one of LSU's best ever

Until Joe Burrow, there was never an LSU quarterback who had a season like Rohan Davey did in 2001.
A part-time starter for the Tigers in 1999 and 2000, Davey burst through his senior year with a passing season unsurpassed until Burrow rewrote the record book in 2019. All except for one mark: Davey’s 528 yards passing against Alabama.
“I think that’s one Joe just wanted to leave up there,” Davey said with a laugh. “He didn’t want to erase everything.”
Davey teamed up with All-American and Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Josh Reed to form one of the most prolific pass-and-catch combinations in SEC history. Reed set a then-school record with 1,740 yards that year as the Tigers powered to their first SEC championship since 1988 and their first Sugar Bowl win since the 1967 season.
Rohan St. Patrick Davey was born in Jamaica in 1978. He grew up in Miami where he came late to football, only starting to play as a 10th-grader, though by his senior year he was a highly regarded prospect.
What convinced him to go play for a school nearly 1,000 miles from home? LSU offered a specific set of circumstances that Davey was seeking.
“It was the LSU fans, the fact I wanted to play quarterback and I wanted to be in the SEC,” he said. “I had played safety my 10th-grade year, and people were still trying to recruit me as that. But I wanted to a school that had played a black quarterback. The first one I saw in the SEC was Herb Tyler.”
Davey was on a recruiting visit in 1997 the night Tyler and LSU stunned No. 1-ranked Florida 28-21, the Tigers’ first win ever over a top-ranked team. Davey signed the following February.
The biggest problem was his number. He got No. 10 as another quarterback, Bryan Sparacino, already had No. 6.
“In recruiting they promise you everything,” Davey said. “’Can I get 6?’ ‘Of course!’ I come in and Bryan Sparacino had 6. I went up to him and was like, ‘I’ve got to get 6 from you, Sparky.’ He looked at me like, ‘Who the hell is this freshman?’ ”
Davey was part of a crowded quarterback room of contenders with Josh Booty and Craig Nall. He played sparingly in 1999 and 2000, though he was the hero of two big games as a junior. He started and threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-31 overtime thriller against Tennessee, then came off the bench in a 28-14 Peach Bowl win over Georgia Tech. Davey threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns to earn offensive MVP honors.
For much of the 2001 season, LSU was searching for an offensive identity. After a painful 35-24 loss to Ole Miss dropped the Tigers to 5-3, it was time for a change.
“After the Ole Miss game, coach (Nick) Saban and the entire staff self-evaluated going into the Alabama game,” Davey said.
The result was a transformational 35-21 win and the most passing yards ever surrendered by the Crimson Tide.
“We put the ball in the hands of the guys who made plays,” Davey said. “And our leaders stepped up: Trev Faulk, Bradie James, Robert Royal, myself, Josh Reed, Reggie Robinson, Jerel Myers. We changed our practice habits, and the reward was what you saw the second half of the season: a high-flying offense and a defense that got stops and forced turnovers.”
LSU made its first SEC Championship Game that December against Tennessee. Davey started but wasn’t around for the end of the 31-20 upset, suffering a ruptured spleen that sent him to an Atlanta hospital. But he recovered in time to start the Tigers’ 47-34 romp over Illinois, throwing for a then-Sugar Bowl record 444 yards. Davey finished the season with 3,347 yards passing, the first LSU quarterback to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark.
Davey was picked by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He played three seasons there before wrapping up his pro career with the Arizona Cardinals in 2005.
More than the yards and the records, Davey, now a business owner in Baton Rouge, is proud that he helped lay the foundation for the most successful run in LSU football history.
“When I came to LSU, we were a middle-of-the-pack team,” Davey said. “What’s going on now is what we wanted to do. It’s good to see how it’s kept going.”

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