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Anthony Davis, USC Tailback October 1, 1973


In 1974 he was the best player at the most famous position on
one of the era's greatest teams. He was Student Body Right, a
5'9", 185-pound, high-stepping USC tailback, and the future that
stretched before him that autumn was as clear as the open field
upon which he thrived. Unfortunately for Anthony Davis, he
couldn't stay in college forever.

At Southern Cal, Davis led the Trojans to one national
championship and a co-championship, and excelled in two
memorable victories over Notre Dame. In 1972 he rolled for six
touchdowns and 368 yards in total offense in a 45-23 win. Two
years later his TD kickoff return keyed college football's
greatest comeback, as USC scored 55 points in less than 17
minutes to rout the Irish 55-24. A.D. surpassed O.J. as the
Trojans' alltime rusher that season and finished second in the
Heisman voting to Archie Griffin of Ohio State. He played
baseball too: As a switch-hitting rightfielder, he starred on
two College World Series champs and was drafted in the fourth
round by the Minnesota Twins in '75. "Baseball was my first
love," he says, "but with the money football offered, it
couldn't compete."

So Davis signed with the Southern California Sun of the World
Football League for $2.5 million. After he ran for 1,200 yards
and 16 touchdowns as a rookie, however, the WFL folded. Davis
never regained his stride. He cracked three bones in his back
playing for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts in '76. He injured his
left shoulder the next season, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
and fractured his left leg twice the year after that. In '79 he
broke two ribs in the Los Angeles Rams' training camp and
retired. Four years later he returned for one last season with
the USFL Los Angeles Express and then limped off into obscurity.

Davis, who's divorced and lives in L.A. with his 11-year-old
daughter, Voz, is a successful real-estate developer and
sometime actor. One of his biggest roles to date was playing
himself in the 1991 TV movie A Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky
Bell Story, about his successor in the Trojans' backfield. He
has also made cameo appearances on the baseball field with
former National League batting champion Bill Madlock and the
barnstorming Hollywood Legends. "The guys on that team told me
that with my power and speed, I could have played baseball," he
says. "Looking back, I should have done that."

--Mark Beech


COLOR PHOTO: WALTER IOOSS JR (COVER) [FYI--Cover photograph of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED featuring Anthony Davis does not appear]

"Guys have told me I could have played pro baseball. I should
have done that."