THE VILLAGES—The Villages linebacker Noor Davis will play his college football at Stanford.
At a press conference at the Villages Charter School on Friday, Davis went through a recap of his recruiting process, said his thank-yous and then said, "it was my dream to have my little brother pick out my hat.
Gabriel shook his head, everyone stood and after an uneasy pause, he picked up the Stanford hat for Noor to place on his head. Most of the crowd screamed and applauded with enthusiasm, some Gator fans sulked back in their seats and Davis said, "I'm going to be a Stanford Cardinal."
Davis, whose father played in the NFL, was born in California. The chance to get back to his roots, along with the opportunity to get what he called a "world-class education," were the main drawing cards for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound linebacker, who will also play quarterback for the Buffalo for his senior season..
Villages coach Richard Pettus was not surprised by Davis' decision.
"We couldn't be more proud of Noor. He is just a tremendous young man," Pettus said. "And as he has said many times, when you walk away four or five years from now with a degree from Stanford University, that says a lot about an individual."
Davis said Stanford's baseball program actually began the process of recruiting him prior to his breakout football season this past year. Davis is a standout outfielder for the Buffalo, as well. He said he's open to the idea of playing two sports in college.
His decision, however, to play football at Stanford was not easy. Davis said his other four finalists -- Florida, Notre Dame, Alabama and USC -- were all very much in the running.
"The Gators were very close. All my five schools were neck-and-neck," Davis said. "It was a very tough decision, but I felt most comfortable with Stanford and I'm very comfortable for the decision that I did make."
Davis also said UCF, which was the first school to offer him, was among his final 10 schools. He said Knights' coaches made a last-ditch effort to sway his decision.
"Yeah, Coach [David] Kelly was up on Wednesday and I got another opportunity to talk with him," Davis said. "We had a great conversation and I have a great relationship with him.
"He actually coached at Stanford. He said, 'Noor, I'm very proud of you, of how far you've come.' He said he would keep in touch with me, and that's a good thing."
Davis is just glad to have the recruiting process completed. He was going to wait until the January Under Armour All-American game to announce his decision, but since he felt so right about his choice, he committed early.
Now he can concern himself with next Thursday, a home date with Winter Park Trinity Prep for the spring game, as well as next season.
"It's tough. It's tough on a family, it's rewarding, it's humbling," Pettus said. "He handled himself with a kind heart, and a very humble heart and it was to the point where phone call after phone call after phone call and visit after visit ... it's rewarding, but he wants to get back to normalcy.
"It's a big lift off his chest and now he can really focus on playing for the Buffalo and getting ready for our season this fall and getting ready for college life."
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.