The parallels between Ben Davis and his father have come full circle.
Like his son, Wayne Davis was courted by in-state rivals Alabama and Auburn. He spurned the Tigers for the Crimson Tide in 1981, and went on to become the program’s all-time leading tackler.
Now, the five-star linebacker faces a similar situation.
On Tuesday, he was visited in-home by coach Gus Malzahn, who was hoping to guide him in the right direction.
“I think it was his first time coming to Gordo,” said Davis, who is rated as the top inside linebacker in the country. “But his message to me was they really need some linebackers, and if I go to Auburn I can get significant playing time early. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I told him I wanted to play early and get developed as a player.”
Davis, who is set to take an official visit to Auburn this weekend, said both Malzahn and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele were adamant about the possibility of seeing the field early as a true freshman. Linebackers Kris Frost, Justin Garrett and Cassanova McKinzy all graduated in December, leaving the Tigers relatively thin at the position.
“I think they’re being truthful about that,” Davis said about playing early. “(Linebackers coach Travis Williams) came by my house, too, once before and he showed me they had three guys graduate this year who played. They only have one guy coming back that actually has some game experience. I’m going to see how this visit goes and they’re going to show me the depth chart and everything.”
After his official visit to Alabama last weekend, Davis named the Crimson Tide his leader, followed by Georgia, Auburn, Notre Dame and LSU. The Tigers leapfrogged ahead to No. 3 after being a distant fifth just weeks ago.
And according to Davis, they could continue to climb.
“My relationship with coach Steele and Travis, they’ve been recruiting me since my ninth grade year,” Davis said. “It’s an in-state school. I’ve been there a whole bunch of times. Between them and Alabama, I’ve been to both about the same amount of times. Every time I go down there, I find out something new about it.
“Shoot, they might end up being my No. 1 after this visit.”
Davis, who will be accompanied on the trip by his father, hopes to get a better sense for Auburn’s academics and a feel for the coaching staff.
“I’m going to look at it from an academic standpoint,” Davis said. “I’m big on my grades. I’ve seen the athletic side of it. Secondly, I want to see how the players relate to the coaches. They have a brand new coaching staff since I last went down for the Iron Bowl. I want to see that and how I relate to the coaches, too.”
Davis is particularly interested in seeing how players interact with Steele.
“I like coach (Will) Muschamp and coach (Lance) Thompson, too, but coach Steele and I have had a great relationship ever since I was in ninth grade. And I know they have a defensive backs coach from the Saints, so, I know he’s going to do really well.”