Michigan's No. 1 receiver Andrel Anthony faces 'very hard choice' as UM, MSU make best pitches

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Andrel Anthony was heartbroken when East Lansing’s season came to an end with a playoff loss to DeWitt, but also proud of his performance, feeling he had grown up as a receiver while being double- and triple-teamed throughout the game.

Anthony, 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, is the top receiver in Michigan and the No. 12-rated player overall in the 2021 class by The Detroit News. He set school records for receptions (54) and receiving yards (954) while scoring nine TDs to help East Lansing to a 7-3 record.

Andrel Anthony

East Lansing defeated DeWitt during the regular season to put an end to DeWitt’s 56-game conference (CAAC Blue) winning streak. DeWitt came back to earn a 21-13 predistrict win despite Anthony having 10 receptions for 157 yards, including a 65-yard TD catch.

“It was disappointing to lose to DeWitt, but I matured a lot in that game,” Anthony told The Detroit News. “I grew up a lot. Double teams and triple teams are not fun, especially when you have a corner pressing you hard and running with you wherever you go, have a linebacker that’s like running straight out to the flat area and then you have a safety over top.

“DeWitt also had a 6-foot-7 defensive end so they put him on my side as well so we couldn’t throw a hitch, so there was a lot to overcome. But I had like 10 catches for 157 yards, so my quarterback Sam Busch and I had a good run.”

Anthony has a big decision to make before his senior year, with the three-star receiver last month narrowing his college choices to Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Notre Dame.

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Anthony, who runs a 4.47 40, was set to take his official visits, but COVID-19 put a halt to them.

“It’s kind of crazy because I had two official visits set up, one at the end of May and another in June, but obviously those got cancelled,” Anthony said. “It’s made the process a whole lot harder because a lot of guys have committed already, just changed their timetable.

“It’s been tough since Penn State is so far. I’ve only been able to get there one time, went to a night game against Rutgers, but didn’t get a good look at their campus. And then there’s Michigan State, which is right down the road. I’ve been there a lot, but only visited their new staff one time.”

Andrel Anthony

Anthony’s high school teammate, offensive lineman Ethan Boyd, committed to Michigan State in early April. Boyd and Anthony took the short trip to MSU to talk with new Spartans head coach Mel Tucker in early March and Anthony was impressed.

“He’s a great guy, very personable, which is a big positive,” said Anthony of Tucker. “He wants the best for you on the field and off the field and he knows what it takes to get to the league (NFL).

“I really like the energy they bring. The last staff was laid back and cool, but the minute I walked in with the new staff you could tell the energy, how alive things were – that was the big difference.”

Anthony has also visited Michigan regularly.

“Michigan is a great school and the coaches are amazing there – Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, Coach (Josh) Gattis, Coach (Sherrone) Moore. They are just a great staff. They have great experience in coaching and playing. They also have great people outside of football.”

Penn State defensive coordinator and Detroit native Tim Banks had done a strong job in recruiting Michigan, but Anthony has built a good relationship with receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield.

“When I was there I had a blast; the coaches were amazing,” said Anthony of his trip to Happy Valley in late November. “I hadn’t met Coach Stubblefield yet, the new wide receivers coach, but I’ve facetimed him a lot. He’s a great person and he was the one that actually offered me. Coach Franklin is an amazing coach. They have a lot going on there.”

Stubblefield left Purdue in 2004 with a then-NCAA record 325 career receptions.

“He just told me he knows what it takes, the fact he’s been to the league (NFL), had a great college career and that he’d push me to the max,” said Anthony of Stubblefield.

Anthony said some Notre Dame commits are pushing him to pledge to the Irish.

“I really do like Notre Dame,” Anthony said. “Coach (receivers coach Del) Alexander and Coach (head coach Brian) Kelly are great people.  They have a lot of history, it’s a great platform for college football. The campus is beautiful, and the academics are great as well. I’ve talked to some of the commits in the last two months and they are definitely want me to come along with them.”

Summing up his recruiting experiences, Anthony said, “I’m up in the air for sure; it’s a very hard choice to make. I’m just taking it day by day.”

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Anthony has been busy to get in elite shape for his senior season.

“I’ve been lucky to have a trainer and I’ve been doing a lot of stuff at home, working out in the back yard, and then I have a bench press downstairs, so I’ve been doing a lot considering the lockdown,” Anthony said.

“I’ve also been able to work out with our quarterbacks. Sam graduated so I’ve been working out with Brevin Jackson and Ambrose Wilson. We’re working on getting a jump start to the season, so we have good chemistry.”

Anthony also plays basketball and runs track, and believes those sports help him be a better football player.

“In basketball it definitely helped being a guard and getting by a defender, like shaking him and going, since it’s the same thing as a receiver where someone is in front of you, trying to jam you, and you have to make a move and go to get into your route,” he said. “And basketball also helps with defense, like reading hips when you’re playing cornerback and safety.

“I also do hurdles and high jump, so that helps to go up and get a pass. You’re going full sprint and jumping, so that’s a lot of body control as well.”

Said East Lansing head football coach Bill Feraco: “He’s been very active in different sports, but what he’s been able to do in the weight room has helped him a lot where he’s now near 6-3 and 180 pounds. He’s very explosive, has great hands and is not afraid to work. He’s a great teammate and a great kid.”