INDIANAPOLIS -- Ball State coach Stan Parrish wasn't surprised that quarterback Nate Davis decided to give up his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
"I always knew it was a possibility, a strong possibility when you have a player like him in today's football climate," Parrish told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. "We talked about this a year ago."
Parrish, the former Ball State offensive coordinator who recently moved up to replace Brady Hoke as head coach, made the announcement Tuesday.
Davis led Ball State to a 12-0 start this past season, during which the Cardinals were ranked as high as 12th. The Cardinals lost to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference championship game, then to Tulsa in the GMAC Bowl.
"I know what I'm about to do won't be easy," Davis said in a statement. "But it's what my heart and head want to do at this time. It's the right thing for me and my family at this time."
The junior threw for 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions this season and his quarterback rating was 13th in the nation.
The previous season, he passed for school records of 3,667 yards and 30 touchdowns. He leaves as the school's leader in touchdown passes (74), yards passing (9,233), attempts (1,124) and completions (678).
Parrish said Davis, a 6-foot-2, 217-pound right-hander, has the tools to excel in the NFL.
"He can make every throw," Parrish said. "He can make the long throws, the touch throws. He's got a lot of God-given talent you really don't coach."
Davis stood out in Parrish's mind as a leader.
"I don't think he ever missed a day of practice, hurt or not hurt," Parrish said. "He has a passion for the game that I thought spilled over to the other players."
Davis said his one regret was that he never won a conference title. But Parrish said Davis and Dante Love, the receiver who led the nation in yards per game before suffering a career-ending spinal injury this season, raised expectations for future Ball State teams.
"Nate and Dante, in particular, took this program to new heights," Parrish said. "That bar is very, very high. And wouldn't you rather the bar be high than low?"
Parrish said he'll miss Davis.
"He's like a son to me," Parrish said. "Like all fathers, you want your son to go out and do great in the world. I think he will."