He’s the man: Maturing Favre aims for big season at UT-Martin

After splitting time in a platoon last season, Dylan Favre enters the fall as UT-Martin's quarterback. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

After splitting time in a platoon last season, Dylan Favre enters the fall as UT-Martin’s quarterback. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

By Patrick Magee

The Sun Herald (MCT)

After flying high with big numbers and a famous last name at St. Stanislaus, life has become much more grounded for Dylan Favre at Tennessee-Martin.

With a son, Xavier, who is about to turn 17 months old and graduation looming in December, Favre readily admits that his priorities have changed dramatically.

“I’ve made 10 times the amount of strides as a person since I’ve been here,” Favre said last week. “That has nothing to do with football. It’s just growing up as a man. Obviously, having a son helped a lot. I have somebody that wakes up with me. I have to provide for him every day. It’s definitely helped.”

Favre, 23, is headed into his redshirt senior season at UT-Martin, his second at the Ohio Valley Conference school.

His first campaign at UTM was his best so far on the collegiate level. Despite missing three games with injury, Favre ranked second in the nation in completion percentage (71 percent), threw for 1,081 passing yards and nine touchdowns for an 8-3 team that narrowly missed the postseason.

After working in a two-quarterback platoon last year along with Jarod Neal, Favre has his sights set on becoming the undisputed starter for the Skyhawks this season.

The nephew of NFL and Southern Miss legend Brett Favre has seen his career take an upturn after coming up short of expectations at Mississippi State, where he was on the team from 2010-11, and at Pearl River Community College.

A famous last name and an incredible career at St. Stanislaus set expectations unrealistically high. As a senior at SSC, Favre threw for 5,589 yards and 63 touchdowns and rushed for 1,265 yards and 18 scores and named the Sun Herald’s player of the year.

While he has yet to put up huge numbers at UTM, he’s worked his way into an offense that can take advantage of his play-making abilities and high football IQ.

“He’d be the first to tell you that when he went to PRCC, he wasn’t successful as he would’ve liked to have been,” said Jason Simpson, UTM head coach. “Last year, when he was healthy, we got to see a bunch of the player who was named the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in Mississippi. I’ve certainly seen glimpses.”

What Simpson has also seen is an intelligent player who could easily make the transition into coaching.

“He would make an outstanding coach,” Simpson said. “He understands the game.”

Following graduation, Favre plans to become a graduate assistant on the UTM staff and enter graduate school in an MBA program.

Better perspective

He is no longer the cocky 18-year-old sure of SEC stardom. Dylan Favre now lives with his son’s mother, Brianna McLeod, and has become a doting parent who understands football isn’t the biggest thing in his world.

Dylan Favre played the 2011 season at Mississippi State – scoring here on a run against his future team, UT-Martin. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis))

Dylan Favre played the 2011 season at Mississippi State – scoring here on a run against his future team, UT-Martin. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis))

“Up until I had him, it was always football, football, football,” he said. “If I have a bad day at practice or I didn’t play as well on Saturdays, I’m still coming home to him every single day. You think about other things. They matter. It definitely changes priorities with him here playing and laughing.”

Simpson, a Southern Miss graduate, has been impressed with Favre’s maturing in his short stint in Martin, Tenn.

“There’s been times where he has to be excused go to to daycare to pick up Xavier,” Simpson said. “It’s fun to watch a young man grow up and take a lot of responsibility.”

Dylan Favre will return to the same place he started his college career when UTM travels to Mississippi State on Nov. 8. He will be taking on his former head coach, Dan Mullen, and former teammates such as Dak Prescott, Robert Johnson and Nick Griffin.

There’s no denying there will be some added motivation when Favre steps on the turf at Davis Wade Stadium late in the season.

“If I said I wasn’t looking forward to it, I’d be lying,” he said. “We have nine games ahead of that, but it will definitely be in the back of my mind. I have a lot of things to take care of before then, but it will be fun going back.”

While the MSU game will loom large, Favre has much more pressing goals such as earning the starting job and taking the Skyhawks to the playoffs.

“Winning eight games wasn’t enough to get us into playoffs,” he said. “We have a lot of room for improvement, but we have a good group and we’re feeling hungry.”