Land of 10 has embarked on a series of Next Generation articles as Michigan writers Rachel Lenzi and Kevin Goheen travel the country to meet this year’s incoming class of freshmen. This week we feature linebacker Jordan Anthony of Colesville, Md.
COLESVILLE, MD. — Jordan Anthony has a few key influences in his life. His mother Odessa Crocker and stepfather Scott Crocker are at the top of the list. Football coaches Steve Norcio, Andy Stefanelli and Kevin Wright are there, too.
Those are the people who have helped guide Anthony on a path that is leading him to the University of Michigan as a member of the 2017 freshman class of football players.
Oh, and don’t forget SpongeBob SquarePants.
The talking, goofy-smiling Porifera who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Yes, the one and the same, absorbent and yellow and porous is he.
“One thing people don’t know about me is I love art. I love drawing, painting and that type of stuff,” said Anthony, a 6-foot, 235-pound linebacker who grew up in suburban Washington, D.C., and played the last two seasons at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. “Being younger, watching cartoons, I always wanted to try to draw those guys and stuff like that. I always said to myself that I’m going to keep practicing and practicing, and teach myself how to draw and those types of things. I’ve been doing it ever since then.”
His favorite cartoon: SpongeBob SquarePants.
“SpongeBob is a show that I can just reel off a few quotes from there,” Anthony said.
One generation’s Demospongiae is another generation’s whascally whabbit.
Anthony will bring more than a love for art with him to Michigan. A 4-star prospect according to the 247Sports composite ratings system, Anthony is considered by recruiting analysts as a gifted player with a high ceiling to become even better.
He has learned from some of the best coaches at every level he’s played. Norcio headed up the White Oak Warriors Pop Warner organization from 2002-14. White Oak teams won 13 national Pop Warner titles at various age groups, including 2008 when Anthony was part of the team that captured the Jr. Pee Wee (ages 8-11) championship.
That team included Penn State linebacker Cameron Brown, Alabama linebacker Terrell Hall, Maryland wide receiver DJ Turner and Terrapins running back Lorenzo Harrison, Oregon linebacker Keith Simms, and Virginia cornerback Myles Robinson.
One of the trademarks of Norcio was that he always asked his best players to play on the offensive line. It was a sacrifice for many of them. These are athletes who typically would be the star running back, quarterback or wide receiver, but Norcio had a purpose in playing them upfront.
“The biggest thing we do is we try to go to the kids and say, ‘We don’t want you have this big ego, and not have to wear this No. 1, and not have to play running back, and not have to play quarterback,’ ” Norcio said. “Our strongest kids were always our guards, tackles and tight end. We flip-flopped them. Our strongside and our weakside were always the No. 1 most unselfish child on the team and tremendously great athletes.”
— Jordan Anthony (@__JAnt4) December 23, 2016
It wasn’t always easy getting the kids — and their parents — to see it would be better for the team in the present and the players in the future. Eventually, most came around, though.
“Coach Steve sat us down and taught us the fundamentals. Back when I played on the line, it helped me learn schemes, so it’s helped on defense,” Anthony said. “He asked us to see what was going on, on the field, and asked us to change the play at the line. Every kid wants to run the ball when they’re younger. They want the glory. I was a little bigger, but playing the line helped a lot. It helped me learn and grow as a player. I’m happy I did.”
Anthony went to Good Counsel High School, when Stefanelli was his coach on the freshman team. Stefanelli moved Anthony to tight end, and then added linebacker and running back to his positions. Anthony moved up to the varsity as a sophomore and started at linebacker.
“As he got to eighth grade and into high school you started to see that athletic ability come out,” Stefanelli said. “What stood out was a phenomenal, high-character kid, really smart. We get some who come and some do great, some do OK, and some not so good. It’s really nice when you get a kid you think is going to be good and he ends up being even better than you thought. He hit every mark and exceeded in a lot of them.”
Anthony transferred to IMG Academy before his junior season and played under Wright. He already had received an offer from Michigan but the competition level at IMG was higher than what he could have gotten at Good Counsel. Anthony became teammates at IMG with center Cesar Ruiz, another member of the 2017 Michigan recruiting class, and was one of 21 players in his class to sign a National Letter of Intent.
You can read more about Anthony when we profile his multi-dimensional abilities on and off the field, including the possibility of him playing two sports for the Wolverines, in our Next Generation series later in June.