2009 Breakout Performers? Anthony Davis

It's pretty tough to be in consideration for potentionally having a breakout year when you have already been the only sophomore in 2008, to be named to the watch list of the Outland Trophy, as well as named as high as a 2nd Team Pre-season All-American by Athlon and 3rd Team by Phil Steele. However, Davis does have some work left to do in order to fulfill his potential at the left tackle position.

The first time I saw Anthony Davis was in a high school game. Piscataway was playing against my alma mater, Woodbridge High School. I can remember thinking, "who is that big guy throwing everybody around?". At that time, I wasn't quite as involved in the recruiting scene barring a question like that. A couple weeks later, I was in Barnes and Nobles and was flipping through one of those high school football All- American publications and learned that I had 2 weeks previously witnessed the phenomenon called "AD".

Davis built up his reputation not only by dominant play on the football field but also by dominating during 1-on-1's at multiple combines. Davis would just show up, not participate in any of the cute stuff, but when it came down to seeing who was the best of the best, Davis was always ready to compete, ended up dominant and was rearely tested. One of the commentators for the U.S. Army All-American game broadcast was quoted as saying " word around practice is that Davis was a man amongst boys all week. That kid is something special". Davis then turned his tremendous success at those events into over 60 offers from the who's who of college football. Luckily he chose to shock the world by selecting to stay home and play for the up-and–coming Scarlet Knights.

Anthony Davis has had a tremendous presence ever since he set foot onto the banks of the old Raritan. He obviously didn't have too far to go being that he played his high school ball less than a mile away from the newly revamped Rutgers Stadium. He has fought through the adversity of losing a substantial amount of weight in order to whip himself into playing shape and not just contribute but start at the right guard position halfway through his freshman season.

Anthony's addition helped propel current Baltimore Raven Ray Rice to having his most productive season on the ground. Davis would just manhandle interior defenders and pull around the corner like a Mack truck devouring the competition and creating huge running lanes for the Rutgers Legend. Coach Schiano has been quoted in the past as saying "He(AD) plays offensive line like defensive linemen play defense. He chases the ball hard. He's looking to clean the pile up. He's an aggressive guy." Anthony was the final link to the completion of a near- flawless offensive line that had consecutively finished amongst the best in the nation in pass protection statistical categories. His efforts ended up earning him the honor of being selected a 1st Team Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association.

He followed up his freshman campaign with the toughest transition move for an offensive lineman; moving from the interior guard position where there is a lot more room for error to his island at left tackle. Davis took it all in stride and went out and put together an impressive season particularly from a pass protection standpoint. He appeared unbeatable. Davis' ability to block the man removed while utilizing terrific foot movement and an unbelievably competitive nature made him a prime time player from the premiere offensive line position. He ended up being officially selected 2nd Team All- big East, although most external publications saw it a bit differently and selected him for their first teams.

Through all of these accomplishments, there is still work to do. Left tackle is a position which entails having good timing and ultimately a high skill level. It also has to do more with levage than brute strength. I believe that "AD" can potentially become a collegiate lineman comparable to the likes of LT Andre Smith formerly of the university of Alabama, and sixth overall draft pick of the Cincinatti Bengals. The two are very similar yet I believe Davis has the potential to be better based on the fact that is in better playing shape, is a bit taller and has the tangibles that it takes to be a better pass protector. Run blocking from the LT position is tricky though. Smith was a terrific combination blocker and had mastered the running game to the point where he routinely made defenders feel embarrassed. Although he also had the luxury of having 3-4 other potential, high level draft picks along with him on the offensive line, he held his own to the point of no denial.

Anthony can be that type of player. He exhibits good leg drive, the ability to battle through blocks and the determination to make plays at the point of attack. Due to his ability to slide his feet, he makes defenders re-start their pass rush progression as much as anyone I have ever seen. Davis has the ability to occasionally get to the second level and create gains in situations where the play should have gone for loss. He plays with a good pad level, is a solid knee-bender and has unbelievable foot-speed for a 325-pounder. These are all ingredients for success at the LT position. IN 2009, it's time to put it all together. If he can improve at sticking on his blocks and using slightly better hand and head placement while run blocking, there will be very little else for him to improve upon going forward.

With 6 of their top offensive linemen returning, the Scarlet Knights have the opportunity to be that same type of offensive line. In order for that to be achieved, Anthony Davis indeed needs to have a breakout performance in conjunction with the same level of effort and commitment from the other 4 members of the starting offensive line. I believe we will see something special in the trenches on the gridiron this fall, although the games are played on the field and not on a piece of paper. I guess we will all have to just wait and see.

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