Ben Davis was diligent on the recruiting trail but ultimately found no alternative worth passing on a legacy opportunity at Alabama.
"I went with my heart," the nation's No. 1 overall linebacker recruit told Bleacher Report.
Davis committed to the Crimson Tide on national signing day, following his father's footsteps to Tuscaloosa. He declared those intentions Wednesday morning during a ceremony at Gordo High School in Alabama:
Davis, a 6'3", 240-pound prospect, considered several universities during an expansive recruitment process, displaying perhaps more reciprocated interest elsewhere than many anticipated. His dad, Wayne Davis, is Alabama's all-time tackles leader, recording 327 during a career that spanned 1983 through 1986.
That personal tie with the program provides extra incentive to pile up big plays in Tuscaloosa.
"He's got a great record there, but I'll be shooting for it. I'm gonna try to bust it," Davis said. "I won't be thinking about it. I'm just going to ball out, work hard, and if it happens, it happens. It'd be pretty cool. I'm gonna try to break it."
Davis racked up 119 tackles and seven touchdown receptions in 2015, according to Joey Chandler of the Tuscaloosa News, earning MVP honors at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. He was also a finalist for the Butkus Award, which is annually handed out to America's premier high school linebacker.
Despite official visits to Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame, national recruiting analysts pegged Davis as a 100 percent Crimson Tide lock in his 247Sports Crystal Ball. The decision wasn't nearly that simple, according to Nick Saban's newest blue-chip defender.
"I was really sweating it between Alabama and Auburn," Davis said. "I had such a great visit to Auburn last weekend, but I just woke up and went with my heart."
He didn't finalize a choice until the morning of national signing day, notifying defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and assistant Bo Davis prior to sharing his intentions with a national television audience. He spoke with Saban afterward.
"He's ready to get me down to Tuscaloosa and coach me," Davis said. "It seems like he's already ready for next season. Very business-like, which is what I like. He knows what it takes to win, and I'm ready to be part of the process."
Rated No. 10 among all 2016 recruits in composite rankings, he was considered one of the most coveted uncommitted athletes entering national signing day. Hours after his announcement, fellow in-state 5-star linebacker and Butkus Award finalist Lyndell "Mack" Wilson also signed with the Crimson Tide over Georgia.
Davis and Wilson are close friends and often discussed the possibility of pairing up throughout this process. That plan came to fruition, providing Alabama with a 10-star linebacker duo that helped propel the program to a sixth straight No. 1 recruiting class in composite rankings.
"We talked about it a lot during the past year. We work together in a special way, and we're really like brothers," Davis said. "Our families have bonded, and it kind of feels like family. He and I can help continue a great linebacker tradition at Alabama."
Based on conversations with the Crimson Tide coaching staff, Davis expects to begin his collegiate career at inside linebacker. He will enroll at the university in June.
"Our class can help create another dynasty. But we've got to come in, work hard and strive to be great. It's all about getting better every day and pushing for a national championship," he said.
Coaching staffs across the country invested significant effort in an attempt to sever Davis' ties with the school his father attended. After years of surveying his options, the lauded linebacker officially feels right at home with Alabama.
"My dad was very excited. It means a lot to be able to do this," Davis said. "I get to play the game that I love and continue a legacy at Alabama."