Russell Davis came out of Woodbridge, Virginia to star at fullback in a 'heyday' period for Michigan -- the 1975-79 era of Rick Leach, Harlan Huckelby, Ron Simpkins, Andy Cannivino, et al. That group was the first Michigan team to play in a non-Rose Bowl game, the Orange Bowl in 1975, and they followed that with three consecutive Big Ten Championships and Rose Bowl appearances (all losses - but we won't get into that!).
Davis is now Athletic Director just down the road from Ann Arbor at Jackson High School -- and he has his own star player in quarterback/athlete Antonio Bass. Bass is a 'Steve-Breaston-style' high school quarterback who led his Jackson Vikings team to the state playoffs this past season. Antonio is an early sleeper -- because being a 6-1 'option quarterback' usually keeps a high school prospect out of the player ratings/ rankings.
However, having an very-early Michigan scholarship offer points to the fact that, in Bass, Jackson High has something special. And Davis knows it:
"Antonio is the most talented player we've had here in quite a while, maybe ever."
What position do you see him playing in college?
"Well, Antonio plays quarterback for us. But he could play a lot of positions in college: quarterback of course, although Michigan usually wants it's quarterbacks 6-4 or better and Antonio is 6-0 to 6-1. But he could play two or three different positions at Michigan: cornerback, running back, wide receiver, wherever they need him, he'd be great."
Does he remind you of Steve Breaston?
"Breaston? Antonio has that kind of ability."
"And the best thing about Antonio is his attitude. He's good natured and humble ... a well-rounded young man. He always has a smile on his face. And he's solid academically with a 3.0 GPA. And he really isn't interested in there being any special attention on him, as you probably noticed when you talked to him."
"But, anything Antonio touches athletically he excels at. He played basketball for us last season (as a sophomore), and was a starter on the team that went to the Final Four in the state tournament. This year he's sticking to football, and that's what I think he should do -- but the track coach wants him, they all want him. As you know, we had the state 100 meter champ here at Jackson High last spring, but he couldn't beat Antonio in the 40 yard dash -- Antonio beat him every time. He's a true 4.4 kid."
4.4! That's like you in your day!
"You got it!" (laughs ...)
Russell, you came out of Virginia to U-M, then played in the NFL. How did you find your say to Jackson High School?
"At the end of my undergrad days at Michigan I had a friend who offered me a job here at Jackson High after So after my five years with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1980-84) I came back here ... I started out as a volunteer assistant coach, and I've been here ever since."
Back to Antonio: the most important question is does he like Michigan?
"Does he like Michigan! Sure he does!"
And is he going to the Junior Day Sunday?
"I'm pretty sure he's going. His mother told me they were planning to be there."
"Breaston? Antonio has that kind of ability!"
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