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Ex-USC recruit Davis lands at Central Florida

Jonathan Davis, one of UCF's prize recruits, admits he felt a little betrayed before finding a home with the Knights.

Davis endured major problems during the recruiting process and suggests there should be an early signing day for college football.

He was heavily courted by numerous high-profile schools and committed to South Carolina in December. It turns out Gamecocks assistant coach Ron Cooper had recruited Davis against the wishes of the rest of the coaching staff. When Cooper took a job at LSU, South Carolina withdrew its scholarship offer.

UCF capitalized on the opportunity and offered a scholarship to Davis, Georgia's Class 4A defensive player of the year and a key member of the Tucker High team that won a state title.

"It hurt at first when South Carolina took away my scholarship," Davis said. "I was thinking, 'How could they do this to me?' I was real upset. But then I realized I still had an offer from Central Florida and other schools were talking to me. I knew I'd be OK and would still have a chance to go to a big college."

Davis isn't the first player burned and likely won't be the last before National Signing Day on Wednesday.

The American Football Coaches Association, which met in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month, endorsed a three-year trial that would allow seniors to sign with football programs during the third week of December in addition to the current signing day in February.

Conference commissioners promptly shot down the proposal. They contend a signing period in December:

-- Wouldn't give athletes enough time make official visits after their senior season ends.

-- Doesn't give schools enough time to review academic transcripts.

-- Pressures athletes to make decisions earlier in the recruiting process.

Opponents also point out numerous schools are still going through coaching changes in December, putting new staffs or schools with vacancies at a severe disadvantage.

Davis said most seniors already have made their decisions by December and it would be best if both sides were held more accountable than an exchange of nonbinding oral commitments.

"If a player gives a commitment, I think the school should have to go through and honor it," he said.

Davis insists he holds no ill will toward Coach Steve Spurrier and South Carolina after his bad experience. He said he's glad the coaches told him before signing day.

But Davis' high school coach, Franklin Stephens, was outraged. He said Spurrier and his staff are no longer welcome at Tucker.

"I think an early signing period would be a great solution because it would take better care of the kids," Stephens said. "If a kid already has made a decision, an early signing period really would take a lot of pressure of him."

UCF Coach George O'Leary has long supported an early signing period, even though if one had been in place this year, O'Leary probably wouldn't have a pledge from Davis.

"My handshake is my word and for some kids, it's just like making a reservation for a hotel. It doesn't mean much," O'Leary said.

During his senior year, Davis had 129 tackles, two sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, one interception and two forced fumbles. He also rushed for 1,230 yards and 18 touchdowns on 161 carries and caught 16 passes for 195 yards and four more touchdowns.

Before committing to South Carolina, Davis was being recruited by Georgia Tech, Boston College, Oklahoma State, UAB and Louisville. After the Gamecocks backed off, UCF and UAB were the only schools to renew their offers.

Davis is listed as a 3-star recruit by, but the biggest knock against him is his height. He is 5-foot-7 and weighs 205 pounds.

"I don't worry about that because it's nothing that I can really change," Davis said. "I feel like I can play with anyone at any level."

Davis said an early signing day would have taken away a lot of his headaches, but ultimately he's just happy to have the chance to play safety and return kicks for UCF next season.

"It's been crazy, but I believe God is sending me to Central Florida for a reason," Davis said. "I'm really excited about finally signing with the right school."

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