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Davis Has Come to the Right Place

Times Staff Writer

Anthony Davis knows the importance of location.

The former USC All-American tailback considers it almost daily in his career as a real estate developer and commercial contractor.

The location of today’s enshrinement ceremony at the College Football Hall of Fame -- South Bend, Ind. -- is not lost on Davis.

“It’s funny how things work out,” Davis, 53, said this week. “I can’t think of a more appropriate place to go into the Hall of Fame than up the street from Notre Dame.”

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Davis was perhaps best known for his spectacular performances against Notre Dame. He scored 11 touchdowns against the Fighting Irish, six of them in 1972 in USC’s 45-23 victory at the Coliseum. Two years later, he ignited the Trojans’ famed 55-24 comeback victory at the Coliseum by returning the second-half kickoff for a touchdown. USC had trailed, 24-6, at halftime, the Trojans’ only points coming late in the second quarter on a seven-yard pass to Davis from Pat Haden -- the first of Davis’ four touchdowns in that game.

“The ’72 game was my best game individually, but it’s hard to beat the ’74 game because it was a team victory,” Davis said. “That ’74 game was the greatest moment of my career.”

Davis rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season three times and finished second to Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in the 1974 Heisman Trophy voting. USC won national titles in 1972 and 1974.

“He had a remarkable impact on football at that time,” USC Coach Pete Carroll said. “Everyone knew who he was. A.D. was the show, and he was worthy of it. He did extraordinary things and has a real spot in history in college football.”

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Davis also lettered in baseball for the Trojans’ 1973 and 1974 NCAA championship teams.

“I won four national championships in two sports and played for two of the greatest coaches ever in John McKay and Rod Dedeaux,” Davis said. “I don’t know if you can ask for much more than that.”

Davis’ career in professional football included a stint with the Southern California Sun of the short-lived World Football League, in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Oilers and Los Angeles Rams, and also the Canadian Football League.

Davis, who lives in Irvine, was back in the spotlight five months ago when he had a gastric bypass operation that was broadcast live over the Internet. The 5-foot-10 Davis weighed 285 pounds, in part, he said, because he suffered from sleep apnea, which causes one to repeatedly stop breathing when asleep. He said the condition has affected his metabolism, among other things.

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At the time of the surgery, Davis said his goal was to enter the Hall of Fame at his playing weight of 185 pounds. He is not quite there. He said he weighs 215 pounds and has watched his waist shrink from 48 inches to 34 inches.

“I’m getting there,” he said. “The procedure probably saved my life.”

The Division I-A class to be inducted today also includes 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte of Notre Dame, who played at Santa Ana Mater Dei High, Alabama linebacker Cornelius Bennett, Michigan defensive back Tom Curtis, Penn State tackle Keith Dorney, Ohio State end Jim Houston, Texas fullback Roosevelt Leaks, Pittsburgh tackle Mark May, Oklahoma running back Joe Washington, Stanford defensive tackle Paul Wiggin, Illinois receiver David Williams and coaches Pat Dye (East Carolina, Wyoming and Auburn) and Don Nehlen (Bowling Green and West Virginia).

Other inductees are defensive back Kevin Dent, Jackson State; quarterback John Friesz, Idaho; end Ronnie Mallett, Central Arkansas; receiver Jerry Rice, Mississippi Valley State; and coaches Dick Farley, Williams; John Gagliardi, Carroll (Mont.) and St. John’s (Minn.); and Skip McCain, Maryland State.

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