|Silver Springs, MD – 6'0" 235|
|Scout||4*, #153 overall
|Rivals||5*, #26 overall
#1 ILB, #6 FL
|ESPN||4*, #124 overall
#9 ATH, #24 FL
|24/7||4*, #210 overall
#8 OLB, #27 FL
|Other Suitors||OU, MD, PSU, Auburn, Clemson, UGA, LSU, OSU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Transferred to IMG, thus the FL state rankings.|
Jordan Anthony is the most athletic of Michigan's incoming linebackers, and one of the most intriguing. His physical attributes are evident, and they're paired with tantalizing linebacker skills. The scouting reports here are highly encouraging on their own, but Anthony's relative lack of experience makes them even more so. I can say this despite Anthony's presence at IMG because he spent his junior year at running back before flipping to defense in 2016. Then he had a weird signing day:
BRADENTON, Fla. — Jordan Anthony sat at a table with three of his female IMG Academy classmates.
It was February 1, but there was no signing day drama for him. Anthony was decked out in Michigan gear and ready to sign his National Letter of Intent two months after he made the announcement that he was going to Ann Arbor in 2017. He was one of 21 IMG Academy football players who earned a college scholarship, yet he sat at the table as the odd man out.
Anthony wasn’t an early enrollee. All of his IMG teammates were already a month into their respective college careers. But Anthony wasn’t held back because of academics or eligibility issues.
He was just a kid who wanted to keep playing baseball.
Anthony was the only two-sport athlete on IMG's team a year ago, and that's time not devoted entirely to his college craft. The junior year spent on offense further limited actual scouting—he performed on offense at many of the camps he went to. As a result there's a relative paucity of information on a consensus four star who Rivals went bonkers over late in the year.
Mike Farrell's explanation of that move:
Elsewhere Farrell asserted that Anthony could be a "blitzing linebacker who can cover like a safety" and was a candidate for "the Jabrill Peppers role" on Michgian's defense. Well then. Rob Cassidy explained in text form as well:
“Anthony is the most active member of an IMG defense that might just be the nation’s best. He moves incredibly well laterally …. as disruptive a linebacker as there is in the class and seems to be in the backfield on most snaps."
That is an impressive evaluation indeed when Anthony spent his time at IMG next to Dylan Moses, an early candidate for the #1 player in the class.
Other sites were more circumspect in their rankings but hit on the same themes. Anthony is a mobile open-field tackler and athletic blitzer:
- Brian Dohn, Scout: "…what stands above all else is his ability to tackle in space. If it 1-on-1 with a running back, he is winning it. He changes direction well, has the ability to find the ball carrier in traffic, and he gets off blocks well. … very good instincts and should be a tremendous weakside linebacker in college."
- Steve Wiltfong, 247: "a true hybrid backer … can play inside or outside in the Big Ten, certainly lining up in the box or even covering from the nickel spot in space. … 4.7 laser-timed speed … The trait that stands out the most is the physicality and quickness Anthony plays with. He’s a sideline to sideline player."
- Kevin Wright, IMG: “very, very good athlete … a lot of versatility. …. [You get a lot of guys] physical enough to play in the box yet when you get spread out can’t play outside the box. I think he has the potential to do both of those things.”
- Chad Simmons, Scout: "… decisive, he plants and goes … sideline to sideline linebacker who can play some in space. He has a nice burst to the ball carrier and he has shown great instincts and anticipation … smart player who takes good angles to the ball with toughness and speed. There is not one phase of his game that may blow you away, but he is strong is so many areas."
- Don Brown:"…tremendous position flexibility … extremely sudden and will explode at the point of contact. He is a guy who can play against spread offenses and can play in space. He is a high-motor athlete and chases the ball with great passion. In a word, he is relentless."
- Chris Partridge: "…phenomenal athlete … very fast and explosive … makes plays all over the field and can play both inside and outside. …will add versatility to the linebacker core."
ESPN's eval is one of their most obvious fire-and-forget moments, mentioning his sophomore season as a linebacker and his junior year at tailback; it was clearly issued before his senior year and never revisited, which is especially irritating in this circumstance. Even so their take on Anthony the linebacker is resoundingly positive:
…very good raw strength. Runs well, but has better short-area burst and quickness than long speed. We like his skill set inside the hashes as opposed to sideline-to-sideline range …great power on contact and the ability to dish out punishment. Good wrap-up tackler who is capable of being a hard striker and knocking ball carriers back. Does not let up leaky yardage. … Displays a good nose for the ball. … Quick to fill downhill and blow up the inside run play. Beats blockers to the point of attack with inside-out angles.
Their only real critique is that he "may not be elite in terms of speed and suddenness." ESPN tends to bring that up for everyone short of Donovan Peoples-Jones because they seem to judge on an NFL plane; other services think he's real good. 24/7 called him an "explosive linebacker that moved at a different speed from his peers" when he attended an Opening regional; Scout came away from the same event saying that he was "fluid in space and really matched up well with the running backs"; there's a bunch of talk about burst and explosion and sideline to sideline above. Possible that he developed in that regard from his sophomore to his senior year and ESPN missed it.
FWIW, Steve Lorenz has been talking up the LB class about since they signed; in his latest re-iteration he notes that Anthony was very high on Michigan's board from the drop and rose even further after a strong senior year.
Anthony's combination of athleticism, skill, and untapped upside is enticing, and the things he's best at are the things Don Brown prizes most highly.
Etc.: Had EPIC OSKEE-level commit announce date announcement. Parse that!
Why Darron Lee? There aren't many spacebackers in Michigan's recent history, what with the 3-3-5 and 4-3 under and being terrible against spread offenses. MSU's Denicos Allen and OSU's Darron Lee are good recent comparables. Here are Lee's NFL draft positives:
Quick to diagnose and flow to the ball. Has unusual ability to find the most efficient routes to the ball. Has athleticism and flexibility to contort his body and succeed through difficult tackle angles. Plays with loose hips, quick feet and desired agility of an NFL weak-side linebacker. Former high school quarterback with the change of direction and speed to be a rangy playmaker. Comfortable in space and excels there. Has plus man cover talent. Willing to stand in and take on blockers with a leveraged strike if his gap is being threatened. Capable gap blitzer with ability to get skinny through the holes.
That's pretty close. Lee was more of a "big safety" per NFL.com and Anthony is more of a pure linebacker.
If you're looking for a Michigan comparable, Anthony is a LB/RB hybrid with the ability to play inside and the athleticism to cope in space and at this point it's all but impossible to dodge an Ian Gold comparison. Frame is exactly the same, too. Gold was a very long time ago now and memories of him are no doubt fuzzy for most.
Guru Reliability: High-minus. Consistent scouting, but it's a little light in quantity. Position switch after junior year limited LB film during the critical phase of his rankings. Spread is pretty big for a universally praised croot.
Variance: Low-plus. The RB year is the only blip on his resume. He's had two of his last three years at LB, appears college-sized or close enough already, and has a clean bill of health.
Ceiling: High. Depending on who you talk to, lacks an A+ size/speed combo but that's about it when it comes to negatives. Potential first-round spacebacker type.
General Excitement Level: High. Anthony seems certain to be a contributor and has the look of a potential star.
Projection: Most likely of the incoming LBs to play because he's not coming off an injury and should be ahead of the game after two years at IMG. Still, all are relatively close and it would not shock to see him pick up a redshirt if someone else emerges. Prospects for significant playing time in year one are dim.
Year two sees the MLB spot open up; Anthony will put his name in for it. Projecting who comes out of a wild six-or-seven-way melee for that spot is a futile undertaking; if it's not Anthony, Michigan will probably size him up for SAM and WILL down the road, with SAM looking more likely—he's got fewer competitors out there.