When NFL Draft prospect Stephone Anthony enrolled at Clemson, he was a five-star linebacker coming out of high school. He knew how good he was. But sometimes, he took it for granted. As a sophomore, he clashed with head coach Dabo Swinney – to the point where Swinney told Anthony he wouldn’t start.
Looking back, that experience woke Anthony up. It helped him grow and mature.
“All the way,” Anthony said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Yes, sir. That was something that definitely had to wake me up, as you said. I just needed to be humbled, and he humbled me in a way. He got a chance to get my attention – and he did. And as you said, it woke me up and it was time to go to work.”
Anthony, admittedly, was furious when he was told he wouldn’t start. After all, he was one of the best linebackers on the team – maybe the best linebacker on the team.
“(There) was definitely some heat (with) that,” he said. “But you swallow your pride and trust what coach is doing.”
Anthony leaned on teammates and assistant coaches to help him get through it.
“That’s definitely where you go,” he said. “You got to believe in your teammates, and I was definitely around some good guys I was able to lean on and go to for advice and kind of help me through that process.
“Keep your head down. Keep working. That’s all I know how to do.”
That certainly showed at the NFL Combine, where Anthony had a tremendous performance. A 6-2, 245-pound menace, Anthony ran a 4.56 in the 40-yard dash.
“I had a real good feeling,” he said. “Just definitely trusting in my ability and knowing what I was going to do and kind of in a sense being an underdog. It was a fun experience, and I knew what I was going to be able to do. It kind of blew some people away. It was fun just to see the reactions and have the day I did.”
But still, a 4.56? That had to be a little surprising even to you, no?
“Oh no, not at all,” Anthony said. “Not at all. I knew I had some wheels on me. I just didn’t know what number was going to pop up there. I’m blessed with some talent, and I’m just trying to take it as far as I can take it.”
Where he’s taking it is the NFL. Anthony is one of the top inside linebackers on the board this year and said that he really enjoyed talking to NFL scouts and coaches at the combine and at his pro day. In fact, it was probably his favorite part of the process.
“That’s the most interesting part about it, to me,” he said. “Get a chance to meet the different personalities, different coaches, the household names – Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Lovie Smith. You meet all those guys and get a chance to interact with them and just talk some ball.”