Saint Anthony makes it two in the first round for the Tigers


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Stephone Anthony became Clemson's second first round pick of the night
Stephone Anthony became Clemson's second first round pick of the night

Two years ago, Clemson linebacker Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Linebacker (2011 - 2014)
#42 6-3, 245
Polkton, NC

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’s name on the back of his jersey read “St. Anthony” as a means of differing himself from then-offensive lineman Shaq AnthonyShaq Anthony
RS Sr. Offensive Tackle
#76 6-4, 276
Williamston, SC

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, and we quickly began to call him Saint Anthony.

That name came true late Thursday night when Anthony became Clemson’s second first round draft pick of the night when he was nabbed by the New Orleans Saints with the 31st overall pick of the NFL Draft. Vic BeasleyVic Beasley
Defensive End (2010 - 2014)
#3 6-2, 236
Adairsville, GA

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was taken by the Atlanta Falcons with the eighth overall pick.

Anthony said going in the first round – and especially to the Saints – came as a surprise.

“There were some rumors going around that I may be selected in the first round, but I truly didn’t know,” Anthony said to the Saints media after the draft. “I met with a lot of different teams, and it was truly up in the air for me. I couldn’t get a feel for who really liked me and where I would go.”

Anthony said he had a lot of pre-draft contact with the Saints at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in late February, especially linebacker’s coach Joe Vitt.

“I got the chance to meet with those guys at the combine. We had an actual meeting with coach Sean Payton, coach Rob Ryan, and coach Joe Vitt, the linebackers coach,” Anthony said. “He’s going to be an exciting guy to play for. I’ve been meeting with those guys throughout the whole process. It came down to the pro day, and I got a chance to meet with them again, and there was something about those guys that we clicked on. He’s a coach that’s going to get after you. He’s intense, and he has to be a fun guy to play for. I’ve been coached that way for the past four years.”

Shortly after the pick ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said Anthony would be a starter from day one, but Anthony said he knows he still has to work.

“Nothing is given. No matter where you are, what round, or whatever pick you are, you still have to come in and work,” he said. “You have to earn everything you get, and it’s been that way my whole life.”

Saints head coach Sean Payton said the Saints did their homework on Anthony before making the pick.

“There was a handful of linebackers we felt could play both inside and potentially outside," Payton said. "We liked the make-up, his size. His position flexibility. I think he can play either inside position. He's probably most suited to play 'Mike,' he's got that body type. Leader of (Clemson) and a great defense. Right at the top of the country in team defense. A lot of prospects on that defense. Through the process, we watched a ton of Clemson film. When you're watching them, you're obviously looking at a number of different players."

Anthony’s selection marks the first time in Clemson history the school has had two first-round defenders. It's the third-time Clemson's had a pair of picks in the first round, 2015 joining 1982 (DT Jeff Bryant, 6; WR Perry Tuttle, 19) and 1979 (WR Jerry ButlerJerry Butler
Wide Receiver (1975 - 1978)
# 6-0, 180
Ware Shoals, SC

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, 5; WR Steve Fuller, 23).

In New Orleans, Anthony will joining Saints free agent signee and former Clemson running back C.J. SpillerC.J. Spiller
Pro Running Back
#28 5-11, 195
Lake Butler, FL

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.

Anthony said getting the phone call from the Saints was a dream come true.

“I barely could get any words out,” he said. “I immediately became emotional. It’s a dream come true for me. This is something that I always dreamed of as a kid, and just to get that phone call and see my name come across that screen was surreal. I’m very excited. It’s going to be a great experience and something new for me; I’m just ready to get to work.”



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