Schwartz: The UConn Huskies Find A Treasure In A Pirate
By Peter Schwartz
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In 2005, Tyler Davis was playing for the Bellmore Braves, a pee-wee football team on Long Island. One day, he had the thrill of a lifetime when his team played a game at the Nassau Coliseum before a New York Dragons Arena Football League game.
That day, there were a few hundred people in the building, the biggest crowd he had ever played in front of. But that young man running around the Coliseum had a much loftier goal. His dream was to one day play big-time college football.
“I just thought from that point on I was going to work so hard to achieve that dream,” said Davis, who is playing in front of larger crowds these days as he enters his senior season at Mepham High School.
That dream became a reality last week, when Davis verbally committed to the University of Connecticut.
“There are no words to describe how happy I am to be a UConn Husky,” said Davis. “It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up academic-wise and football-wise.”
Davis has been a star in high school.
In his junior season with the Pirates, Davis threw for 1,023 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 1,107 yards and 21 scores. At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Davis is the total package. He will compete with four other quarterbacks at UConn.
Davis is an intelligent young man. You have to be smart to be a quality quarterback, but Davis is more than just a smart signal-caller. He’s also a good student. So good, in fact, that he is going to graduate in December and then begin at UConn in January. Since the spring is an important time for a football player to get ready for his season, Davis wanted to hit the ground running and get to college ahead of time.
“Coming in early will just increase competition, and competition is going to bring out the best in me and my teammates,” said Davis. “I can come in and compete right away and that’s going to make the UConn football team better.”
Nine schools offered Davis a scholarship, but he chose UConn to carry out his boyhood dream, a goal that was achieved by rolling up his sleeves and working hard.
“It’s something that I really wanted,” said Davis. “At the end of the day, when I look back on it now, it was totally worth it. It’s definitely a dream come true.”
Eventually, Davis’ decision came down to two teams: UConn and Old Dominion. He went back and forth in his mind each day, but it was a trip to Storrs in May that ultimately pushed him toward the Huskies.
“I thought the place separated itself,” said Davis. “They really stood out. I woke up and I just felt that UConn was my place.”
Davis is the first quarterback recruited by new Huskies head coach Bob Diaco, who comes to UConn after spending four seasons as the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. The Huskies’ new regime was able to convince Davis to jump on board.
“I think the whole staff sold me on it,” said Davis. “Coach Diaco is a one-of-a-kind coach. We’re mirror images of each other. We think the same way, we act the same way and we work the same way.”
And that helped Davis come to his decision to play for the Huskies.
Davis informed the coaches at UConn of his verbal commitment on Sunday, June 8, and then made his decision public with an announcement at Mepham High School on Thursday, June 12.
“My parents and (Mepham) coach (Anthony) Cracco were the only ones that knew about it,” said Davis. “We kept it a secret.”
Davis was able to keep his decision a secret from his teammates, including Pirates starting center Stephen Johnson, his longtime friend and teammate going back to their pee-wee days with the Bellmore Braves.
When Davis reached under the table to reveal the hat of his chosen school, his buddy was all smiles.
“I couldn’t be happier for him,” said Johnson. “He’s always wanted this. He has great poise in the pocket. He pushes the whole team to the limit and makes us the team that we are.”
Before he joins the Huskies, Davis has some unfinished business with the Pirates. Last season, Mepham lost to Garden City in the Nassau County Conference II Quarterfinals.
This year, the objective is to win it all.
“If we’re going to win a championship, we’re going to have to go 1-0 each week and focus on the team we have the next week, and hopefully bring a championship back to Mepham,” said Davis.
The University of Connecticut won a battle with eight other schools to get Davis. The institution has itself a special young man with a lot of ability. Davis is a tremendous leader who can make a team better with his mere presence.
As a young boy running around on pee-wee fields all over Nassau County, Davis had a dream of playing college football and making it to the big time. He’s living proof that dreams do come true.
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