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"He's like a father to you," says strong safety Byron Linwood. "Most coaches teach football; he teaches everyday life."
"My first feeling was, 'Who is this man? Football is a tough guy's game," says right offensive tackle James Benson. "He had us saying 'Yes, please' and 'No, thank you,' cleaning the dorm and generally representing the university. But his positive approach molded us."
"Athletes can do anything they believe they can do," says one self-described Wacker Backer in the booster Frog Club, "and Wacker's got them believing." It's obvious that Wacker believes in them. In the Tech game, Sciaraffa noticed that the linebackers and cornerbacks were converging on TCU's dive back. Wacker promptly ordered a pitchout, and as the defenders fell for a fake to Davis's excellent foil, freshman Tony Jeffery, Davis was off on his 75-yard touchdown romp.
One of 12 children born to a dietician mother and a hospital housekeeping supervisor father in Temple, Texas, Davis signed a letter of intent with Nebraska in February of 1981 but chose to attend TCU because "I wanted to be here when the excellence rolled in." Before the start of his freshman year, however, Davis suffered a knee injury, plunged into despair and dropped out for the fall semester. He reenrolled in the spring of '82 but again turned inward when a brother had a serious auto accident in June of '83.
"I lost a lot of hair worrying," he says. "I did a great deal of soul-searching. I decided I was thinking too much about my own problems. I felt the best thing I could do was work for Coach Wacker."
Since last December, Davis has increased his weight from 195 to 210, his vertical jump from 28" to 31�" and his bench press from 275 to 365 pounds, while lowering his time in the 40-yard dash from 4.6 to 4.47 seconds. He has been bursting through lines and outrunning secondaries ever since. "All you need to do is open a hole about a foot," says right guard Tommy Shehan. "And raise both hands for a touchdown," adds center Mike Flynn.
With Davis in the vanguard, the Frogs have been making great leaps forward. Following the Tech game, they milled around the locker room, index fingers held high, and chanted, "Hey, hey, ho, ho—TCU to the Cotton Bowl."
"I never thought Cinderella was a Frog," said Wacker, "but now I do. Unbeleevable!"