By Sean Doerre
Big 12 Correspondent
On Saturday, David Gettis will put on his Baylor football uniform one last time and take the field for the Bears for the 47th time in his four-year career.
The California prep star came to Baylor as a highly touted two-sport athlete with aspirations to dominate the track and the gridiron in Waco and while his college track career only lasted a year, Gettis will leave with a solid chance to play football in the NFL.
“I am working hard to get to the next level, but I am really not focusing too much on that right now,” Gettis said. “I am just worrying about finishing this year off strong and helping this team.”
Before arriving at Baylor, Gettis rewrote the California track record books by capturing three consecutive state 400-meter titles and winning the Los Angeles City 400 as a junior and senior at Dorsey High School in Los Angles. By his senior season, Gettis ran a 45.84 in the 400, the fastest time in the nation by a prep athlete.
Gettis’ dominance extended to football field, as well, where he caught 31 passes for 600 yards and nine touchdowns in his senior year. Rivals.com listed him as the nation’s 26th best receiver. The numbers earned the budding star an invitation to the 2005 U.S. Army All-American bowl where he became Baylor’s first commitment to play in the game.
During his freshman year Gettis played in 11 games for the football team and ran track, but after hauling in only four passes for 82 yards he realized he had to drop track in order to optimize his football potential.
“I really wasn’t at the level that I wanted to be as a receiver, so I really had to focus on one sport in order to be the best I could possibly be and really tune my skills,” Gettis said. “If that meant giving up track that is exactly what I had to do.”
Over the next two seasons even without track, Gettis struggled to produce on the football field. As a sophomore and junior he failed to notch a single touchdown reception, but that was soon to change.
During the spring of 2009, second year head coach Art Briles challenged Gettis to ‘step up and be a senior,’ and the 6-foot, 4-inch receiver has responded with 49 catches for 606 yards and three touchdowns through 11 games.
“As far a being a better receiver, I definitely see that as true,” Gettis said about his senior season. “I am just doing whatever my team needs to win a game, so just making a play whenever a play comes my way.”
Gettis’ performance surge has not only aided Baylor’s efforts to reach a bowl, but has also bolstered the receiver’s chances of being drafted according to NFL scout C.O. Brocato.
“I think he will move up in the draft,” Brocato said. “He has got the size, he has got speed and his hands are OK. He is improving and has gotten better. He is draftable. He has got all the intangibles you want.”
Gettis sees his turnaround as a result of growing into a new role.
“My role my first three years here wasn’t really to be the receiver that I need to be on this team right now,” Gettis said. “Granted I could have probably done a little more, but now I am playing a bigger role. I have worked really hard to make sure I can make the plays when my number is called.”
The senior recognized as well the need to improve his hands if he was to play in NFL and says he spent much of the summer working to make them better.
“I worked on my hands all summer and I feel that is one of my strongest attributes now,” Gettis said. “I want to learn. I know I don’t know everything about being a receiver, but I am going to work hard. I am a team player, somebody that understands you may have a game with 100 yards, you may have a game with 30 yards as long as you win the game and do everything that you can to help the team win the game that is all that really matters.”
So while David Gettis never got to challenge the records of former Baylor track stars Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner in the quarter mile, he just might be running routs on Sunday afternoons next fall.