ST. PETERSBURG — Being the son of a former NFL player has always meant higher expectations and inevitable comparisons for former Maryland running back Davin Meggett.
As he prepared this week for today's East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, it was hard not to see a little of former Giants running back Dave Meggett, who was short (5-foot-7) but a versatile weapon for the Bill Parcells-coached team that won a Super Bowl in Tampa in 1991, 10 months after his son was born.
Davin (pronounced Day-vin) is a bit taller at 5-8 and about 30 pounds thicker than his father at 218 pounds, and the spotlight of a showcase game like today's is a reminder of the challenge he faces in trying to make a name for himself.
"Everybody brings it up, but at the end of the day, it's all about me and my game. Nobody's going to draft me just for my name," said Meggett, who rushed for 896 yards in leading Maryland for the second year in a row. "They're going to evaluate me and evaluate my game play."
He's often compared to his father, who returned seven punts for touchdowns in a 10-year NFL career, but Meggett likes to pattern his game after a current NFL runner of similar stature — 5-8, 212-pound Ray Rice of the Ravens, who has topped 1,200 rushing yards and 60-plus catches in each of the last three seasons.
"I look to him as being someone I strive to be, somebody I can play with and play like," he said. "I very much look forward to doing what he does."
Last year, the challenge of being Dave Meggett's son became much more than higher expectations on the football field. The elder Meggett was sentenced to 30 years in prison in South Carolina after being convicted of criminal sexual conduct and burglary in a 2009 case that was the last in a series of arrests. Dave Meggett, now 45, isn't scheduled for parole until July 2034, when his son will be 44.
"He's a completely different man," said the younger Meggett, who still keeps in touch with his father regularly but rarely about football. "They have their opinions and expectations. I'm not him. We're two different people. Not the same. That's the truth."
He's making a similar journey to that of former Alabama running back Mark Ingram a year ago. Ingram was drafted by the Saints while his father, Mark, who played on the same Giants' Super Bowl team with Dave Meggett, was serving a 10-year prison term on counts of money laundering and bank fraud.
Ingram has shown that with enough perseverance, a father's fame, or infamy, can become a mere footnote to a son's success.
Davin Meggett has been training in Arizona in preparation for the draft, hopeful of an invitation to the NFL combine workouts and using this week as an opportunity to showcase what he can do against other draft prospects. His father was picked in the fifth round in 1989, and Meggett is projected as a mid- to late-rounds pick by draft pundits, something he can continue to improve today and in the next three months.
"It's all about making plays on the field," Meggett said.
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] or at (813) 226-3346.