GORDO, Ala. — It seems unfathomable to think about.
Would an elite prospect who grew up 30 minutes away from Tuscaloosa — one whose father was a star linebacker for the Crimson Tide — end up at any school other than Alabama?
After moving from Arizona to Alabama as a child, five-star inside linebacker signee Ben Davis spent his middle and high school years in Gordo, Ala. It’s where his father, Wayne Davis, was a standout high school football and basketball player before going on to set the Alabama’s career record for tackles in the 1980s.
Since middle school, all Davis has known is crimson and white.
But on National Signing Day, Davis said his recruitment came down to Alabama and Auburn, Alabama’s biggest rival.
Three months later, Davis is sticking to his story.
“My last visits before signing day were to Alabama and then Auburn. I was really close to going to Auburn,” Davis told SEC Country. “But I went with my first gut (feeling) when I woke up (on signing day) and that was Alabama.”
But what was it about the Crimson Tide’s in-state rival that made things so close? Mainly, a relationship with a former Alabama position coach who is now Auburn’s defensive coordinator.
“I’ve been there so many times, and Coach (Kevin) Steele recruited me at Alabama, he recruited me at LSU and now he’s at Auburn. He recruited me hard there,” Davis said. “We just kept in contact throughout the process, and like I said, I went down there so many times. Every time I went, I liked something new about it.”
But the relationship wasn’t enough to pull the 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker out of Alabama’s backyard.
“In my heart, I wanted to wake up every morning and go work out at Alabama and practice at Alabama,” Davis said. “I didn’t want to be at Auburn wishing I was at Alabama. I feel like that’s what would have happened if I went to Auburn, so that’s what helped me decide.”
Davis and the rest of Alabama’s 2016 class are scheduled to report to Tuscaloosa later this month.
Editor’s Note: We’ll have more on Davis as a part of our Next Up series. Here are our stories on linebacker Lyndell “Mack” Wilson, tight end Irvin Smith, cornerback Shyheim Carter and wide receiver Gehrig Dieter.