Class of 2016
Growing up the son of a football coach, Bill Davis knew two things - kicking and winning. The two went hand-in-hand for Davis.
“I didn’t know any different when I was young,” said Davis. “My father was a coach in high school. My brothers were there before me, so to be able to go off and win a championship myself was special. I think I appreciate it more than I did then.”
Davis is talking about a national championship, of course. The Athens dentist wasn’t always known as “Dr. Davis”. In the early 1970s, Davis was one of the most prolific kickers in Alabama football history.
“I played some other positions, but my father was the head coach he didn’t want me to get hurt,” said Davis. “He kind of knew that I had something special kicking and he wanted me to focus on that. I was encouraged by the fact that I was practicing with my brothers and then they went off and won national championships.”
While playing high school football in Columbus Georgia, Davis watched as his brother Tim and Steve each went on to kick for the University of Alabama. And both of Davis’ older brothers won national championships with the Tide in 1961 and ‘65 respectively.
“There was always a lot of pressure,” said Davis. “I was very lucky to be there when we won a whole lot, so that helped. You are standing there by yourself and the pressure goes up as the game goes. I think being so young helped.”
Davis followed in his brothers footsteps and went to Alabama on a football scholarship. Over the next three years, Davis would serve as the starting kicker
during one of most successful stretches in Alabama football history.
“We only lost one regular season game when I was there, but we had trouble winning the bowl games,” said Davis. “Coach Bryant had some tough times from ‘68-70. I was lucky that my freshman team went undefeated. From there, I think the whole attitude changed. Coach Bryant said we are going to back to the way when were when we were winning. I didn’t notice, but I know that talking to some of the older players, you could tell it was changing.”
With Davis as the starting kicker, Alabama won three consecutive SEC championships from 1971-73, capped by a national championship his senior season in ‘73. While Davis only lost one game while in Tuscaloosa, it’s one that will be remembered for a long time. It was a 17-16 loss to Auburn in the final game of the 1972 season - also known as the “Punt, Bama, Punt” game.
“Those were punts that were blocked. What most people don’t remember is that I had an extra point blocked that was blocked on the tee at the beginning of that game,” he said. “You never know how things are going to work out. That game was in hand and all of sudden the punt gets blocked. I remember watching from the sidelines and thinking, ‘Surely, they can’t block another one.”
While being part of the royal family of Alabama kickers makes Davis unique, what makes him one-of-a-kind is that he was one the last “straight-on” style kickers in college football.
“I was one of the last ones,” Davis said. “That’s why my (younger) brother never got to play. Peter Kim was the first soccer style kicker at Alabama and that was right after me. I remember thinking, ‘Is this going to work?’ They had some problems with the ball hooking at first. Nowadays, you have such a big pool to pull from with so many soccer players.”
After graduating from UAB’s School of Dentistry, Davis and his wife, Harriet, settled down in Athens, where they have lived for the past 37 years.
“We knew we wanted to be in North Alabama,” said Davis. “And we wanted to go to a smaller town and this was about the nicest I could find.”
“It’s a great honor,” said Davis. “I’m excited about it. I’m excited more about being inducted here because knowing all these people and how nice everyone is.”