There’s a meeting room in the Fetzer Academic Center, located on the lower level of the McClain Center, that we use for on-camera interviews on Friday afternoons when ABC, ESPN or the Big Ten Network comes to town to televise our football games. It’s right outside the back of the football locker room, so it’s convenient. We just grab whichever players we need and they’re in and out in 10 minutes or less.
I met up with Anthony Davis in that room earlier this week. Hadn’t seen him since he left here more than three years ago. Doing interviews with the media was never really Anthony’s favorite thing.
“Remember this room?” I asked. “It’s where I used to bring you to do TV interviews.”
His response told me he’ll be a great asset to our athletic department as he starts a one-year internship with our Academic Services office.
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “That was big-time. I didn’t realize how big that was until I left here.”
I took that to mean, in part, that we sometimes don’t realize how good we have it until what we have is gone. Among other things, Anthony Davis will be able to share that perspective with our current student-athletes.
“A.D,” as he was called, is the second-leading rusher in Wisconsin history behind only Ron Dayne. He played here from 2001-04 and, at the top of his game, was one of the best running backs this school has ever seen. None other than Barry Alvarez himself said so after Davis rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns in 2003 home-opener against Akron.
“I've been around the Rocket Ismails and the Ricky Watters; we had some pretty good game-breakers at Notre Dame, too," Alvarez said, going back to his days as the Fighting Irish's defensive coordinator. “Anthony is playing as good as any of them. We've been around a lot of good backs. I don't know if we ever had one playing as good as Anthony is playing right now.”
But Davis, who had rushed for 3,435 yards in just over two seasons, injured his left ankle early in a loss to UNLV the following week. He dealt with nagging injuries for much of the remainder of his career and he gained only 1,241 yards the rest of the way.
Davis was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft. The Colts wanted him to play in Europe, but Davis opted for the Canadian Football League instead. He played for two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and was traded to Toronto before being released this past spring.
Davis, who graduated from UW-Madison in 2005 with a degree in elementary education, found himself looking beyond the playing field.
“I started looking into graduate school programs and I started putting some really serious thought into what I wanted to do with my life after football was completely done,” he said. “I thought that academic advising in higher education was something I wanted to learn more about.”
So, Davis applied for an internship in our Academic Services department where he will work in a number of different areas. He’ll run some football study tables, mentor some student-athletes and work with the CHAMPS Life Skills program.
“I can bring back a realistic perspective,” Davis said when I asked him what he’ll have to offer this position. “I’ve been through the program and I know some of the pressures these guys face. I know how tough it is with time management and I know how tough it can be sometimes being a student-athlete at a big time school like this.”
Davis doesn’t feel his football career is completely finished, but he knows it will be someday.
“I’m going to do this internship for a year and spend the year training and see what happens after that,” he said. “In the meantime, I’ve already put in my application for graduate school here. I already have a Plan B and I’m working on a Plan C. I’m managing a lot right now and I have a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time. It’s good to see people I haven’t seen in years. I’m excited about being back here.”