As the summer continued, Davis was courted by every major program in the country. And while visits from the likes of Pete Caroll and Jim Tressel to his school arose, the interest in Rutgers as a destination seemed to decline. Davis would continue to become a regular at Rutgers' practices, for he loved being around the game and the local college athletes. But, the 16 year-old Davis set his focus on bigger programs, for in his mind the top kids should be focused on the upper-tier schools.
However, Rutgers Football Head Coach Greg Schiano and Rutgers Football Recruiting Coordinator Joe Susan maintained their steadfast persistence that Rutgers would one day climb to the upper echelon of college football, that Rutgers would one day become "the sexy choice".
Early in the football season, even though it seemed Rutgers would be out of the Davis sweepstakes, Davis became a regular at Rutgers games. And as the season progressed, two games prominently standout in the Rutgers-Anthony Davis connection. The first was in the 4th week of the season. Davis attended the Rutgers home game against Howard. And in what was a convincing win for Rutgers, they would also suffer a huge loss. WR Shawn Tucker broke a bone in his ankle. What was to be a happy locker room, had a deep sense of sadness. And while most of the players were having discussions with members of the media or teammates on the events of the game, in the corner of the locker room was Shawn Tucker in tears after receiving the news that his college career was most likely over. And the player sitting next to Tucker was Davis. This big man that gives off this air of invincibility, would simply sigh, nod his head, and with genuine empathy repeat the words "this sucks". At that point in time, it was evident that this perceived cocky kid, this superstar that most felt was all about the glitz and glamour, had internalized the players at Rutgers as part of his family.
As the weeks passed on, Rutgers continued winning with style and grace. And then, on that second memorable game, that November 9th night when Rutgers would defeat then-#3 Louisville in perhaps the most exciting sporting event to be played in the tri-state area in a very long time, Davis would be seen cheering on that field, looking like a kid in the candy store. His smile from ear to ear was not simply because of the aura of the event, but because he was proud that this team, from his state university, would shock the nation by playing with unmatched pride and determination. At this point in time, what felt right in his heart certainly also felt right in his mind.
But Davis would stay true to the recruiting process and trip to Ohio State, his year-long favorite, for the match-up of the season between #1 Ohio State and #2 Michigan on November 18th. For Rutgers fans, the battle between these two goliaths was a very scary time in his recruitment. From a professional standpoint, Davis was able to witness the biggest possible stage in college football. And with Ohio State hosting some of the best players in the nation, winning in dramatic fashion and locking up a spot in the National Championship game, the fear of losing Davis became real. Could anyone blame a kid for choosing to play for arguably the biggest football factory in the country? The allure of OSU became real. The message boards were churning out rumors of Davis actually committing OSU that weekend.
But after the fireworks and dust has settled upon Davis' return to Piscataway, he once again realized that New Jersey was home. And on December 5th, one of the most influential men in convincing Davis that Rutgers was the right place to be, Head Coach Greg Schiano turned down a traditional power in Miami, to continue to develop "something special" at home. Then, on December 9th, Davis took his official visit to Rutgers. No one truly knows what happened or was discussed on that visit. But one could speculate that these two men, one grown and one developing, both had a heart to heart on what would become the future on New Jersey college football. Anthony Davis must have seen a role model in Greg Schiano, for they both know what they represent to the state of New Jersey.
Rutgers has now received commitments from two of the most significant people in the state: Greg Schiano and Anthony Davis. This sleeping giant, is well on its way to changing the landscape and leaving its mark on college football.