Stephone Anthony gaining confidence, playing time

by - Senior Writer -
Anthony had five tackles against the Hokies including 2 tackles for loss.

CLEMSON – Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Fr. Linebacker
#12 6-3, 235
Polkton, NC

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announced his decision to attend Clemson on National Signing Day in February, and he said at that time that “Clemson is coming.”

Clemson is indeed on the rise, perhaps earlier than Anthony and others expected, but so is Anthony.

The middle linebacker out of Anson High School in Wadesboro, N.C., played just one snap against Florida St. two weeks ago, and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said he would make sure that Anthony saw the field more against Virginia Tech.

Steele kept his word, and Anthony played 29 snaps against the Hokies, many of them in crunch time. He could be seen calling the signals for the defense, and wound up with five tackles. As a result, Steele said on Tuesday that Anthony has earned the right to play even more this week against Boston College.

“Stephone plays in both the nickel and dime package, and his rotation has gotten better, better, better,” Steele said. “He has the mechanics down, he is a good tackler, he has speed and he is a smart guy. He earned what he got [last week], and now he has earned some more.”

Anthony said he understands that being a freshman linebacker in Steele’s defense –a complex defense that requires the middle linebacker to call the signals – is a process, and he believes he is finally beginning to grasp what it takes.

“It just shows [his playing time] that I am starting to earn their trust,” he said. “I am starting to figure things out, and I am grasping every opportunity. Around here, you decide your own playing time, so you have to just keep working hard and pray for the best.”

Anthony actually came to Clemson as an outside linebacker, but Steele decided early in fall camp that Anthony had the talent and smarts to play the middle, so he changed positions and has been on a crash course ever since.

“I am trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can,” he said. “Coach Steele throws it at me, and I just have to grab it and keep on moving. The biggest challenge is trying to learn and understand the whole thing.”

Anthony’s first action of the season – in the season opener against Troy – saw him a little too animated on the field for Steele’s tastes, and Saturday’s calm yet focused effort showed just how much he has grown in a few weeks.

“I felt like I was relaxed, and I was comfortable and didn’t feel any pressure,” he said. “I blocked everything out and just played ball. That comes from being more knowledgeable and learning from experience. Once you get that experience, you settle down. I settled down out there and got everything called right. I know more about the defense and understand things better.”

Making the night even more special for the freshman was the fact that he did it in Lane Stadium against a team that he seriously considered attending, and was even on campus there in late January for a recruiting visit.

“It meant a lot to me for me to go up there and have a good game and have fun,” he said.
“The environment was good and it was just fun for me. I considered them a great school and a great football team. They were one of the places I really liked, but I changed and decided to come here. I felt more comfortable here, with the surroundings and the people around me. This place has a loving, caring atmosphere, and I decided to come this way.”

His decision led to his “Clemson is coming” remark on ESPN, and he admitted that he isn’t surprised by Clemson’s early-season success.”

“I knew we had great talent coming in and I knew we had great talent already here,” he said. “I knew if we put it all together we could make a run at it.”

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