By Greg Goodyear and Larry Weiner
This past spring there were 3 Centaur football players—Antwon Smith, Anthony Luckett, and Donovan Davis—were able to sign National Letters of Intent to play college football. One was a running back at El Camino College, and the 2 others were defensive standouts at their respective positions. The first was an extremely hard-hitting linebacker at West LA College and the other was a cornerback who played in spring ball a few years ago and recently decided to resurrect his career.
The most decorated was Donovan Davis, 5’9” 195, a running back who graduated from Culver High in 2015 and was a three-year varsity player for the Cents. In 2014, Davis ran for nearly 1,000 yards and also played slot receiver and cornerback on defense. In 2013, he helped lead the Centaurs to an outright league championship, but unfortunately, he was injured in the last game of the season versus Beverly Hills. Davis, who was also a star sprinter on the track team and ran a best of 10.9 in the 100M in his senior year, was projected as a division 1A running back. However, the injury was most likely the main reason he did not get offered a Division 1 scholarship. Davis had fairly good grades (2.8 GPA) and recovered and worked very hard and had an outstanding senior season. He had some serious Division 1 interest from a few schools but again was not offered a scholarship.
Once he realized that he was not going to be offered a scholarship, his plan was to go to junior college and grey shirt. When a player grey shirts at a junior college, he goes part-time (taking less than 11 units) and can practice with the team to learn the offense, but he cannot play in games. By doing this, he allows himself to still be recruited, and also he learns the system so that he can likely be in the running back rotation as a freshman the following year. There were 4 schools who were seriously interested in him and who were considering offering him a scholarship in the Spring of 2015. These 4 schools were D1AA Eastern Illinois, Hampton, Robert Morris, and Cal Poly. Unfortunately, those schools backed off in the Fall and did not make him a scholarship offer.
Davis was a starting running back at El Camino College in 2016, gaining 500 yards on 90 carries, a 6.1 yards per carry average, and he scored 5 TDs. His exemplary season earned him Division 1A scholarship offer to the University of New Mexico and a Division 1AA offer to Florida A & M. After sending his transcripts to be evaluated, disaster struck. Unbeknownst to Davis, he now found out that he was given a class in High School that did not fulfill the core requirements and that this would make it impossible for him to transfer because he did not have the 16 core classes needed to move on to the Division 1 level. Therefore, he was not a Division 1 qualifier coming out of High School. This meant he would have to go to junior college for another year to get his AA degree so that he could transfer to play college football at the next level.
Unfortunately, Davis was hurt early in the 2017 season and was never 100%, and therefore, he did not garnish the Division 1 scholarship he was looking for. He did receive several Division 2 offers and had serious interest from 3 D1AA schools. He was offered scholarships to Eastern New Mexico, Henderson State (Arkansas), Southwestern Oklahoma State, Humboldt State, Southern Connecticut State, and D2 powerhouse Sioux Falls. The 3 D1AA schools who showed interest in him were Portland State, Sam Houston State, and Virginia Military Institute (VMI). After visiting Humboldt in February, he decided to sign with the Lumberjacks. When asked why he decided on Humboldt, he stated, “I really liked the environment, the coaches, my host, and because of the players I knew up there. I felt like I could be there for the next couple of years.”
When asked what were his goals at Humboldt, he shot back, “Number 1, I want to graduate! The running back that left was an All-American, and I want to keep the tradition going!” Davis had a 3.3 GPA at El Camino and was designated a “Scholar Baller.”
The next former Centaur to earn a scholarship this year was Anthony Luckett, the older brother of this year’s starting star slot receiver Tyler Luckett. Luckett was a 2012 Culver High grad and was a track and football star. Luckett received a D2 scholarship to Western New Mexico and was a part-time starter in his freshmen year. Luckett wanted to transfer and nearly received a scholarship to University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). When the scholarship offers died off, he decided to walk on to the track team at UTEP. Coach Goodyear called the California football recruiter at UTEP, Robert Rodriquez, and was told that the player he almost offered a scholarship to was already on the campus and on the track team. When Rodriquez heard that Luckett ran a 10.4 100M, he excitedly yelled, “send him over to me immediately, because I want him to try out for Spring practice!”
Luckett participated in Spring practice, and as time went on, the coaches were very pleased with his improvement. In fact, they were so happy they were ready to offer him a scholarship. The track coach talked Luckett into focusing on track, and he went along with that plan.
However, Luckett also had GPA issues and was not eligible. He decided to transfer back to Santa Monica College and join the football program there. But his transcript got hung up, and by the time this was resolved, the season was half over so he decided not to play. Because he went full time both semesters, he had only 1 semester left at the D2/NAIA level to play football. Coach Goodyear continued looking around and found him a scholarship at Peru St (Nebraska). When asked why he decided to go to Peru State, he said, “I really liked that the coach was persistent and called me to convince me about their program, and he took a chance on me after not playing for a while, and he didn’t even see me in person.”
When asked what he liked about the school and the program, he said,
“by talking to the coaches, they talked about their desire to win a championship, and I wanted to go out with a bang my last year and win one too.”
The last star athlete from Culver High to receive a scholarship this year was West Los Angeles College middle linebacker, Antwon Smith. At 5’10” 235, Smith was an absolute annihilator on defense this year. The hard-hitting linebacker was known for his ferocious hits and sideline-to-sideline speed.
Smith was one of the star players on Culver High’s 2014 team and was also one of the hardest hitting linebackers on the Centaurs over the last 10 years. He dominated his position, but he was not a qualifier for a scholarship coming out of high school and therefore he had to go on to play at a junior college.
Smith was an instant starter at West LA College and led the team in tackles 2 years in a row. If he was at least 6 feet tall, most experts feel he would have easily gotten a Division 1 scholarship. He had numerous inquiries from D2’s and NAIA schools and chose to go to Sterling College in Kansas. The coaches at Sterling were impressed with his speed, tenacity, and hitting ability. They felt that in addition to playing middle linebacker he could help them out on special teams.
Football training camp at Sterling begins in early August but Smith plans to leave in the latter part of July to get acclimated to his new surroundings. When asked why he chose Sterling, he replied, “Because it felt like home. They seemed like they did not just care about football but also about my future. They had everything to offer.”
His goals at Sterling are too, “be the best I can be in academics and football and make the best of my last years of college football until the next level!”