A decade before Rece Davis began breaking down late-night highlights on ESPN’s SportsCenter in the mid-1990s, he was energizing the Muscle Shoals boys’ basketball team.
Davis wasn’t the fastest guard or tallest player, but those who knew him say few gave more effort. And of course, no one could quite recap a game like the aspiring broadcaster.
After a big road win, Davis would emulate the style of legendary SEC hoops analyst Joe Dean as he highlighted some of the Trojans’ top moments from their most recent victory.
“Coming back from away games some teams like to sing after a victory, some teams just sit back there and talk,” said Davis’ former high school teammate Anthony Reid. “But Rece kind of did a play-by-play of that night’s game.
“Or on the way to the game he might give us a play-by-play of how it was going to come down to a last-second shot.'”
Those days of entertaining teammates on lengthy bus rides helped pay off for Davis, now a 21-year ESPN veteran embarking on his latest challenge as the new host of ESPN’s College GameDay, which airs Saturdays at 8 a.m. CT. His first broadcast will be live from Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas, alongside analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and David Pollack.
“The show and the people on the show have established so much credibility that what their opinions are about the issues of the day matter,” Davis recently told AL.com. “Chris [Fowler] did such an extraordinary job hosting the show for 25 years and overseeing it’s growth, that it is gratifying to take over for him and you’re pleased and proud to be a part of it.”
With Davis’ new role, ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas, who has spent the last decade working with him on the basketball edition of College GameDay, says the longtime host is finally getting “the notoriety and the acclaim that he should have been getting all along.”
Comparing Davis to a great point guard, Bilas says Davis is “selfless on air” and his ability to keep a show moving, while bringing out the best in the analysts he works with makes him unique.
Eleven hours before his alma mater kicks off its 2015 season at the AT&T Stadium on Saturday, Rece Davis will make his College GameDay debut in front of a live audience at Fort Worth’s Sundance Square and with college football fans from all over the country watching from home.
“I’m as interested as everybody else is to kind of see his signature on the show,” said Kirk Herbstreit, who is entering his 20th season as an analyst for the popular pregame show.
GameDay analyst Lee Corso, 80, who is the only remaining ESPN personality who has been on the show since it first aired in 1987, is also looking forward to working with Davis.
“He’s perfect,” Corso said.
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