MADISON – Julius Davis was flattered by the attention but unmoved by the sales pitch.
Davis was a junior at Menomonee Falls High School when he committed to Wisconsin in November 2017.
The touted tailback was later wooed by coaches from LSU, Notre Dame and USC. Their goal was to persuade him to de-commit from UW and choose their school.
Davis never wavered and signed his national letter of intent Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.
“It is definitely an honor when you see schools from all over offer you, especially being a skill guy from Wisconsin,” Davis said. “I took a lot of pride in that.
“I was proud and honored to talk to those high-level coaches. But at the same time, Wisconsin was where I wanted to be.
“I committed there and I was comfortable at Wisconsin. My dad wanted me to at least look at other schools so I kept my recruitment open for a little bit before eventually closing it.
“But talking to other coaches and seeing how they are and getting a feel for their program solidified my commitment to Wisconsin.
“I just felt more at home at Wisconsin.”
UW’s coaches added 19 scholarship players plus six preferred walk-ons Wednesday.
Davis, 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, put together a phenomenal junior season with 1,762 yards and 17 touchdowns on 257 carries. He missed most of his senior season, however, after suffering a sports hernia. He isn’t sure when he will be fully recovered but plans to join UW for summer workouts.
UW’s top two tailbacks heading into next season should be All-American Jonathan Taylor, who enters the Pinstripe Bowl with 1,989 yards, and Garrett Groshek, who rushed for 410 yards, on an average of 6.6 yards per carry, during the regular season.
Freshman Nakia Watson has yet to play this season, but the staff remains high on his talent.
According to Davis, UW running backs coach John Settle wants the newest tailback to be ready to compete for playing time immediately.
“He doesn’t want me to redshirt,” Davis said. “He told me it is completely my decision if I feel I’m not ready with the playbook. He wants to get me in the game plan right away.
“He let me know: ‘Julius, we’re not afraid to play freshmen. The best players are going to be out there.’ ”
Davis already has bonded with Taylor, who owns the FBS record for combined rushing yards as a freshman and sophomore with 3,966.
“Me and J.T. are cool,” Davis said. “I love him. If I ever have any questions or just need to talk to him I can text him.”
Davis isn’t afraid to share the lofty goals he has set.
He wants to reach the NFL and hopes to break records set by Taylor and former UW tailback Melvin Gordon (408 yards in a game) along the way.
“I definitely look up to those guys and their accomplishments,” he said. “I want to set my standards above that.”
Davis and other members of the ’19 class have been active on social media for months trying to recruit other players to UW.
“We always talk about a national championship,” Davis said. “That is our goal. We know it is a high goal but we also know it is attainable.”
Whether UW can reach that goal remains to be seen.
Menomonee Falls coach Dan Lutz has no doubt UW landed an impact player.
“He is a physical runner, explosive out of his cuts,” Lutz said. “He runs north and south and he is great at jump-cutting. He gets horizontal real quick.
“He loves contact. He is not one of these guys who is going to be a scatback and dance all over. He is going to try to run you over.
“I think he should get acclimated pretty well there because we run the same stuff here.”
Lutz wasn’t surprised to see Davis remain committed to UW despite listening to the recruiting pitches of other coaches.
“A couple programs came at him pretty hard,” he said. “But in the end it was being a Wisconsin running back. His goal is to be a pro someday. I’m sure it was pretty much a done deal once Wisconsin offered. But it’s obviously pretty nice to be wanted by a lot of different people.
“They obviously all saw something they liked.”