Penn State landed its fifth verbal commitment for its Class of 2008 yesterday (Tuesday, May 13), when Tony Davis (6-0, 180) cornerback from Howland High in Warren, Ohio selected the Nittany Lions over Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Pitt.
“It’s really been a zoo around here the past two weeks,” said Howland head coach, Dick Angle. “We must have had around 30 schools come in here. Tony is without a doubt the heaviest recruited player I’ve had in my five years at Howland.”
When Davis’ announcement was carried in an article written by Joe Scalzo of the Youngstown Vindicator yesterday (May 13), it didn’t create much of a reaction among Penn State football fans on Blue White Illustrated’s website.
In fact the most asked question regarding Davis was: “Who is he?”
It seems that all the recruiting services and most of the college football “recruitniks” on the Internet didn’t have an idea who Tony Davis was.
That just goes to show college football fans how inexact a science college football recruiting really is.
Maybe recruiting analysts and college football fans across the country never heard of Davis, but the same can’t be said about the Big Ten Conference and some of the country’s most prestigious college football programs.
“Almost every program that came here the past two weeks was prepared to offer Tony a scholarship,” Angle said. “Recently, Tony had an outstanding performance at the Competitive Edge Combine right here in our own backyard in Austintown (Ohio).
“Tony was on fire at that camp. He ran a 3.9 second 20-yard shuttle time and posted a 41-inch vertical jump. They actually found it hard to believe that a 6-foot-0, 180- pound cornerback could bench press 315 pounds.”
As impressive as Davis’ performance was at the Competitive Edge Combine recently, Angle pointed out that Davis has been putting up those type of numbers and times on the track this entire spring.
“Tony is an exceptional hurdler,” Angle said. “He has one of the fastest 110 meter high hurdle times in the state this spring (14.5 second time) and he’s our anchor on our 4 by 100-meter relay team that has the second fastest time in the state. I believe they have run a 42 second flat time.”
On the football field Davis had an exceptional 2002 season to help lead Howland to a 9-4 record, the best the school’s done since Angle arrived just before the start of the 1998 season.
Davis was an All-Metro Athletic Conference selection by the Youngstown Vindicator following the 2002 season. He totaled close to 50 tackles, had four interceptions and 15 knockdowns. On offense he was a second-team tailback, rushing for 726 yards, 11 TDs and was credited with 12 receptions for 243 yards. He is reported by Coach Angle to run consistent 4.4 40-yard times and he’s one of the strongest members of the team benching 315 pounds.
“You can’t help but be impressed by Tony’s athletic ability,” Angle said. “But it’s his character that impresses me the most. This is a quality young man. He had eight brothers and sisters and he is the youngest member of the family.
“Here is a young man that knows what hard work and dedication are. He never complains about anything and is always willing to go the extra mile.”
This spring immediately after school adjourns, Davis is on the track practicing from 3 PM to 5 PM.
“At that point Tony doesn’t head home,” Angle said. “He comes right over to the weightroom and stays there until about 7 PM. Many times I have to kick him out of the weightroom, so that I can go home.”
So how did this ball of energy go unnoticed by all the college football recruiting analysts on the Internet?
Angle believes the answer to that question is quite simple.
“I was the head coach at Ursuline High in Youngstown, Ohio for 18 years,” Angle said. “We were an established program and automatically I was expected to have football players, even when that wasn’t the case. We haven’t had that type of tradition here at Howland. Our 9-4 record last year was our best ever.
“I really don’t think many college coaches marked down our school as a visit during the May Evaluation Period.”
That may have been what the past dictated, but with players like Davis and three additional possible Division I-A recruits this fall Angle is about to make Howland one of Ohio’s top stopovers each May.
“In addition to Tony, I believe we have three other possible Division I-A prospects on our team this fall,” Angle said. “Chris Kenney (6-3, 235-TE) is being recruited by Indiana and Wisconsin.
“Brad Samsa (6-3, 250/OL&DL) is being looked at by Pitt, Miami (Ohio) and several other MAC schools and Brandon Alexander (6-1, 185-DB) is receiving interest from schools like Syracuse, Indiana and Kentucky.”
But the jewel here is Davis.
“I’ve been coaching at the high school level for 23 years and I’ve never had a more dedicated player than Tony,” Angle said. “He is going to have an excellent opportunity to have an outstanding career at Penn State.
“He combines everything you look for in a player. I’m just glad I’ve had the privilege to coach him.”
Davis was recruited for Penn State by Jay Paterno and when he took an unofficial visit to Penn State on Wednesday, April 23 he began to develop a close relationship with Penn State’s defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.
“I wasn’t able to take Tony up to Penn State because of a prior commitment,” Angle said. “So two of my assistant coaches took him there. He told me when he got back, Penn State was the place for him. He really felt good about the place and he got along real well with the coaches, especially Bradley.”
Davis will hold a press conference at Howland High on Wednesday, May 21 to officially announce his decision to attend Penn State.
Call Davis whatever you want. He will probably end up being Penn State’s “Sleeper of the Year” for its Class of 2008, but in my estimation there won’t be a better athlete in the Nittany Lions Class of 2008.