Glad to be Back

Penn State senior Tony Davis says he is much more comfortable now that he's playing cornerback again.

Tony Davis had a challenging junior season at Penn State. He was playing a new, unfamiliar position. He suffered a burner just as the Big Ten season was about to begin. And a day before the Nittany Lions' game against Ohio State, he had to have his appendix out.

But Davis didn't sulk, nor did he linger long on the sideline. He returned to play in the Lions' final three games, and the clouds continued to lift when Joe Paterno decided this past spring that after a season at safety, Davis would be better off at cornerback, his original position.

“I've been excited to be back at cornerback ever since Joe moved me back in the spring,” the senior said Tuesday, looking ahead to the team's opener against Coastal Carolina.

No surprise there. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Davis sees himself as a natural cornerback. Always has. He embraces the high-stakes nature of the position, admitting, “I like to be a put-him-on-the-island kind of guy. I like guarding people and making plays.”

He figures to get that chance in 2008. The Lions appear to have plenty of talent in the secondary but not a lot of depth. Listed ehind Davis on the depth chart is Willie Harriott, a redshirt junior who got only 48 snaps during the '07 season.

Davis admits he was “frustrated” last year. Coming off a strong performance in the 2007 Outback Bowl in which he scored the decisive touchdown on an 88-yard fumble return, was moved in the off-season to patch a hole at safety.

The move made sense. Said safety Anthony Scirrotto, “Tony was a starter the year before, and we knew he could get it done.”

Davis was apprehensive, but he didn't have any choice. “It was in the best interest of the team,” he said. “But cornerback is my natural position. I'd never played safety before.”

He ended up playing it well enough to earn starts in the team's first eight games. He finished 12th on the squad with 29 tackles, despite the injuries.

After the season, standout cornerback Justin King decided to skip his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. Davis said he didn't necessarily see King's departure as the prelude to another position change, and when he learned he was going back to cornerback he was “really excited.”

That excitement hasn't abated in the months since his move. Indeed, the Warren, Ohio, native can hardly wait to get his final season under way. Said Davis, “I'm real eager to get out there and play against people other than the people we go against in practice.”

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