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Anthony Davis, USC Tailback
Mark Beech
July 13, 1998
October 1, 1973
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July 13, 1998

Anthony Davis, Usc Tailback

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October 1, 1973

In 1974 he was the best player at the most famous position on one of the era's greatest teams. He was Student Body Right, a 5'9", 185-pound, high-stepping USC tailback, and the future that stretched before him that autumn was as clear as the open field upon which he thrived. Unfortunately for Anthony Davis, he couldn't stay in college forever.

At Southern Cal, Davis led the Trojans to one national championship and a co-championship, and excelled in two memorable victories over Notre Dame. In 1972 he rolled for six touchdowns and 368 yards in total offense in a 45-23 win. Two years later his TD kickoff return keyed college football's greatest comeback, as USC scored 55 points in less than 17 minutes to rout the Irish 55-24. A.D. surpassed O.J. as the Trojans' alltime rusher that season and finished second in the Heisman voting to Archie Griffin of Ohio State. He played baseball too: As a switch-hitting rightfielder, he starred on two College World Series champs and was drafted in the fourth round by the Minnesota Twins in '75. "Baseball was my first love," he says, "but with the money football offered, it couldn't compete."

So Davis signed with the Southern California Sun of the World Football League for $2.5 million. After he ran for 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns as a rookie, however, the WFL folded. Davis never regained his stride. He cracked three bones in his back playing for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts in '76. He injured his left shoulder the next season, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and fractured his left leg twice the year after that. In '79 he broke two ribs in the- Los Angeles Rams' training camp and retired. Four years later he returned for one last season with the USFL Los Angeles Express and then limped off into obscurity.

Davis, who's divorced and lives in L.A. with his 11-year-old daughter, Voz, is a successful real-estate developer and sometime actor. One of his biggest roles to date was playing himself in the 1991 TV movie A Triumph of the Heart: The Ricky Bell Story, about his successor in the Trojans' backfield. He has also made cameo appearances on the baseball field with former National League batting champion Bill Madlock and the barnstorming Hollywood Legends. "The guys on that team told me that with my power and speed, I could have played baseball," he says. "Looking back, I should have done that."