When he’s not on the field, you might spy Anthony Davis just kicking back, playing some video games or taking in a flick, all typical activities of a UW student. But Anthony Davis is more than just your typical student. The Badger running back is on track to become the next 1,000-yard rusher, continuing the team’s nine-year legacy.
One would think that this tradition would put a lot of pressure on a young player like Davis, being compared to the likes of Michael Bennett and Ron Dayne, but Davis remains cool.
“I’m just excited about [becoming the next 1,000 rusher],” Davis said. “I don’t think it adds any pressure. All of us, as a unit, know what we have to do to get the job done and help this football team out, and that’s what we’re all doing — trying to work as a unit to get the job done.”
Another part of the “unit” Davis refers to is his friend and fellow running back, Jerone Pettus. Davis and Pettus hail from Plainfield, N.J., and Roosevelt, N.Y., respectively, which led the duo to an interesting nickname — the “ECC.”
“Last year we were on a scout team together, and out of all the redshirt freshmen, it was just me and him,” Davis said. “We used to work hard against the first team defense and we used to get plays on them, and out of that we just started calling ourselves the ‘East Coast Connection,’ ’cause we’re both from the same area of the country.”
The “ECC” will be getting a lot more playing time soon, due to the departure of running back Tyron Griffin. The third redshirt freshman RB left the team late last week in order to pursue other opportunities.
“We were all pretty close,” Davis said. “I hate to see him leave, but that was his decision. There’s nothing I can really do about it.”
Davis moves on, gaining skill and knowledge with every practice. His current status as the standout running back is the result of a lot of hard work in the off-season.
“I went out and worked hard,” Davis said. “I try to practice with a purpose, and try to get better every week. Just working on the little things.”
His work ethic and dedication to becoming a better player, especially since spring, has impressed offensive coordinator and running backs coach Brian White.
“He’s made a lot of progress,” White said. “He’s been a very consistent player, I’m very proud of the way he’s played in the first three games. He’s gotten better, and he hasn’t even scratched the surface of where he can go, so that’s the fun part — to be able to see what sort of ceiling he can rise to. He’s a great kid, and he’s a good football player.”
Davis’ fellow teammates also appreciate his hard work.
“He’s the Ron Dayne-type back, the Michael Bennett-type back, that gets you the 100 or 150 yards a game,” said quarterback Jim Sorgi. “He’s really stepped up and played well, and we’ve been able to move the football because of him.”
As dedicated as Davis is to football, he’s also a very hard-working student. The running back is majoring in elementary education and hopes to become a teacher someday. Though he’s seen many of his predecessors at RB go on to the NFL, the possibility of playing football after UW isn’t something Davis really dwells on.
“It’d be nice,” he said. “But my main goal is to leave this place with my degree. So if I’m fortunate enough to play football afterwards, then that’d just be a blessing for me.”
Davis’ tenure as a Badger is virtually just beginning this season, but he has already proven he has what it takes to one day have his own place in the record books. With a gain of 428 yards in just three games played this season, White has complete confidence that UW’s rushing legacy will continue.
“He certainly has the ability, and unless something drastic happens, he’ll achieve that goal,” White said. “He’s certainly on pace, if not a lot further on pace, than one would expect. It’s certainly a goal that he can achieve. If he stays healthy, he can achieve it.”