So much for Davon Grayson's quiet freshman season. So much for his coach's intention to shelter him. Grayson's been too good, too productive and too personable to hide.
First college catch? Touchdown. Second catch? End zone again. Four scores on six receptions through two games.
Adjusting to college? Fitting in academically and socially despite a stutter that impedes his speech? Done and done.
Indeed, Grayson, a true freshman receiver from King's Fork High School in Suffolk, has impressed his East Carolina coaches and teammates at every turn.
"Athletically, he was able to adapt to the speed of the game," Pirates head coach Ruffin McNeill said. "We (challenged) him very early in camp. And then maturity wise, (he was) able to handle the offense, concepts, adjustments.
"He's a great, great young man. Besides on the field, Davon's even better off the field, as far as just being the kind of person we want in our program."
Grayson was an honor student at King's Fork, where he also long-jumped and high-jumped. Combine Grayson's grades and athleticism with his 6-foot-2 frame, and you have the makings of a package coaches crave.
But injuries dogged Grayson until his senior football season, prompting schools such as Virginia and Virginia Tech to withhold scholarship offers.
"It meant a lot to me that ECU didn't waste any time," Grayson said prior to a practice for Saturday's game against Tech. "Once they saw I can play, they just said off the jump, 'We have a place for you here on our team.'
"The rest of the big schools were kind of playing around here and there, saying, 'We're going to wait until you get to a certain point of the season, make sure you stay healthy.' It just means a lot to me to show everybody I can play (Division I) football. I think I'm doing pretty good right now, and I can't wait to show the rest of the schools that kind of passed up on me that I'm a guy you wish you'd have (signed)."
Old Dominion wanted to sign Grayson — badly. But Grayson committed to the Pirates in August 2012, choosing them over the Monarchs, Richmond, James Madison and VMI, among others.
Coincidentally, ECU opened this season against ODU, and Grayson's first two receptions resulted in touchdowns of 9 and 6 yards. He added a 1-yard score later that evening, and an 18-yarder last Thursday against Florida Atlantic on … his 18th birthday.
"Coming in at first, I really just wanted to show our coaches that they didn't need to redshirt me," Grayson said. "All I really wanted to show them was that they wanted to have me on the field. Whether that was returning kicks, or punt returns, or being the deep-ball guy.
"One day in camp they called for the first-team guys and Coach called me, and I just kind of looked around and said, 'Are you sure?' After that, that's when I kind of knew, I had no more time to use the excuse, 'I'm just a freshman.' I just had to play, because the teams we're playing don't care that I'm a freshman."
McNeill began sensing that Grayson could contribute immediately during the summer.
"One day the practice fields were closed, and Davon and about four other guys, five other guys … climbed over the fence and starting throwing the football," McNeill said. "Like old-school days. That really impressed me. Two hours on a Saturday. Along with his physical talent, he works very hard."
What impressed McNeill more was Grayson's approach to stuttering. He'd learned to shed his insecurities and ignore the taunts of those too young or ignorant to know better.
McNeill understands the drill all too well, for he also stutters.
"That's one of the first things we talked about, because I understood how as a stutterer, you let them finish a sentence," McNeill said. "You don't cut them off, because he's got a lot of things going through his mind and eventually it will smooth. He'll become even more relaxed and even more fluid in his conversation.
"When I told him that I was a stutterer, am a stutterer, that initial bond was there for us. I love him for him, and I really think that was a connection."