ANTHONY DAVISwasn't trying to make a statement. In electing to play football at Rutgers nextfall, the 6'6", 335-pound senior offensive tackle at Piscataway (N.J.) Highsays he was merely "choosing the best fit for me." His decision, whichhe announced on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio,nevertheless shocked college football analysts. "Davis is the biggestrecruit Rutgers has ever signed," says recruiting expert Allen Wallace.Davis's rare combination of size, speed and agility made him one of thecountry's top prospects at offensive tackle, and most expected him to sign withOhio State.
Davis onceimagined he would be going to that sort of traditional power. He first receiveda scholarship offer from Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano when he was 14, butDavis dismissed it, even though he lives just five minutes from campus with hismother, Sheronda, and eight-year-old sister, Wanya. "They weren't verygood," Davis says of Rutgers, which at that time hadn't had a winningseason since 1992. He thought he would follow the road traveled by other NewJersey blue-chippers, such as USC wideout Dwayne Jarrett (New Brunswick) andBoston College linebacker Brian Toal (Wyckoff)—the road out of town. But thenRutgers had a winning season in 2005 and built on it the next year; Davis, whohad 52 scholarship offers, placed Rutgers in his final two. Last November,Davis made his official visit to Ohio State and watched the Buckeyes beatMichigan 42--39. "I started to get excited about Ohio," says Sheronda."But Anthony changed his mind every other week."
Then Davis spentthe weekend with Scarlet Knights star running back Ray Rice and saw that theteam had a family feeling to it. "Just hanging out with everybody, it wasdifferent," Davis says. It didn't hurt that he had a front-row seat atRutgers Stadium on Nov. 9, when the school knocked off undefeated Louisvilleand fans swarmed the field. Davis expects more nights like that one are in hisfuture. "Rutgers is getting better," he says. "I want to be a partof it."
With Signing Day on Feb. 7, these were Rivals.com's top unsigned recruits as ofMonday.
JOE MCKNIGHT Considering: LSU, USC, Ole Miss, Alabama,Texas, Arkansas, Florida State, Notre Dame
John Curtis (River Ridge, La.)
MARVIN AUSTIN Considering: FSU, North Carolina, USC,Maryland, Tennessee, Illinois, Miami
Ballou (Washington, D.C.)
RONALD JOHNSON Considering: Florida, Michigan, OhioState, USC, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Texas
TERRANCE TOLIVER Considering: Florida, LSU, Oklahoma,USC, Tennessee
CHAD JONES Considering: Florida, LSU, Alabama, FSU,Miami, USC, Auburn, Clemson, Ole Miss
Southern Lab (Baton Rouge)
JAMES R. MORTON/WIREIMAGE.COM (DAVIS)
COURTED KNIGHT Davis liked the family feel at Rutgers, which pursued him for years.
BLINKSTOCK/MEDIA BAKERY (ILLUSTRATION)