July 29, 2009

SEC/ACC battle brewing for Anthony

With the 2010 class almost wrapped up, the University of Georgia is trying to get a jumpstart on 2011 by targeting some of the best prospects in the country. One top player offensive tackle Shaq Anthony, was invited and attended both the camps in Athens this summer.

Anthony, who currently measures in at 6-foot-4, 255-pounds, has also been to camps at South Carolina and Clemson, and has picked up verbal offers at all three schools. Anthony spoke with UGASports recently to get his thoughts on the camps and offers, and here is the latest on this very talented rising junior.

"At all three camps I worked out at, the coaches at each school have told me they love my footwork, but they want to see me work on my punch and my kick step a little more," said Anthony.

While he knew he was going to play at the next level, the quickness to which the BCS schools came forth with offers still caught Anthony off guard.

"Getting an offer was not unexpected at the time, because my coaches told me I was going to get division one offers," he said. "I was still shocked getting these offers in camps, even though I was killing myself trying to earn them."

Anthony said Clemson had hinted an offer could be on the way, but the Bulldogs were the first to actually give the talented lineman the one. Anthony explained how it went down in Athens.

"Before the last day at the UGA camp, Coach Stacy Searels told me that Coach Mark Richt wanted to talk to me. That night I was playing on the team his son was coaching, and I went over and asked Coach Richt how he thought I was doing," Anthony said. "He said really well and after that, he introduced me to his wife. He then said I would have some good news for me after practice tomorrow. I didn't know what to think, but next thing I know my coaches texted me that night and also said I would have some good news tomorrow."

"So after the last practice was over, all the coaches walked up to me and said, alright Shaq, we want you to look Coach Richt in the eye when you are talking to him, talk clearly, and just be respectful to him," said Anthony. "Coach Richt walked over and said he wanted to come straight out with it, that he wanted to give me an offer, and they wanted me to be a Bulldog. He said we are confident in you, your growth and your ability, and that they really liked what they saw in me. He said that is what they want, but he did not put any pressure on me. I definitely liked how he said he did not want to put any pressure on me. He said I had all the time in the world, but this is where they want me."

Anthony's father played at Clemson, and so the Tigers are a familiar destination for the Piedmont native. However, he admitted he was not at all prepared to get the option of playing for such a nationally prominent program such as Georgia.

"The Bulldog offer kind of hurt me, because I was thinking I have been around Clemson all my life, but now this big SEC school has offered me. What is it going to be like if I end up letting the Tigers down and not going there because I have all of these SEC schools offering me? It was something I did not expect to happen, and it threw me off for this to happen so soon," Anthony said.

One thing Anthony does not feel is that he is owed the opportunity to play major college football. Even though he has put the time and the work in, he still gives the credit to someone else.

"To have this chance, it is something I was blessed by and definitely proud of," he said. "I guess when you do good things for the Lord good things come your way."

Now with two SEC options, Anthony admits the Clemson staff is feeling the heat.

"It is definitely an honor just to be recognized by Georgia, the things they have done are very impressive," he said. "Clemson does not like me bringing Georgia up on a visit or anything. I told the offensive line coach at Clemson about my Georgia and South Carolina offers, and he told me those are cuss words around here."

He has the chance to stay home and play in the ACC, but Anthony also got some advice from the Bulldogs' offensive line coach on what is would be like to play in the SEC as well.

"Georgia is one of the biggest in recruiting and on the field. I was talking with Coach Searels, and he was telling me about the differences between the SEC and the ACC. He said the SEC is not only better academically, but you play in big time games. The SEC is going to be on TV every Saturday night, and they always say if you win the SEC championship, then you play for the national title, and that is big to me," said Anthony.

Even with all of that, it is likely to be an uphill battle to beat the school that is a legacy for Anthony. However, according to the Palmetto state standout, they are not leading over Georgia either. His father no doubt loves the Tigers, but he insists he is going to let his son make his own decision.

"I do not have a favorite, but I definitely have Georgia and Clemson as my top two schools. When we went to Georgia and sat down with Coach Jon Fabris and Coach Searels, my dad told them he wasn't going to push me to Clemson, I love him and I want him to go to the school he feels is the right fit," said Anthony.

Anthony then revealed that not only is his father not pushing him to Death Valley and in fact, his father was the main reason Shaq made the trip out to Athens in the first place.

"To be honest, my dad and my mom, they love Georgia. They are the ones who told me I should camp. So as far as what Georgia has to do to keep up with Clemson, really, what do I have to do with keep Georgia liking me?"

One thing that stands out for both schools is the presence of faith in the coaching staff. Anthony admits that is big in his mind.

"I look at them as the same schools, Clemson and Georgia. With Coach Dabo Sweeney and Coach Richt, of course Coach Richt has more experience, but both have the religious aspects that make me want to be around and part of the program," Anthony said.

When asked which camp pushed him to the limit, Anthony had good things to say about all three. However, he also said one place was head and shoulders above the rest in terms of talent on campus.

"At Clemson, there were a couple of good defensive ends, and some at South Carolina as well. In all three of the camps, I think I went up against about 50 division one defensive ends. However, most of the competition came from Georgia. I really had to focus there, and work on my kick step and punch in the one on ones. Then I went back up to Athens for Dawg Night, and it was like taking all of those camps, and multiplying them by like 1000. Going up against some of the best prospects in the nation, and being able to go up against Jalen Fields was awesome. I want to redeem myself against him, so I want another chance," said Fields.

One Georgia commit helped him learn what he had to work on, and two others helped him learn some new techniques as well.

"Being able to watch Kolton Houston and Brent Benedict; seeing those two and being able to watch them go at it against him, I was able to learn a lot," said Anthony.

He got a chance to see two of the best offensive lineman in the country in action, and they have since all become good friends. Anthony says he may have learned more from the two future Bulldogs after the camp.

"I love those guys, we exchanged phone numbers and I have since asked them about some of their offers and why they chose Georgia over some of them. I talked to Brent for a long time, and he said he had a lot of interest in Clemson, and he said at the last minute he went to Georgia. When I asked why he didn't choose Clemson he said he loved Clemson, but in the end he knew Georgia was where I needed to be," said Antony.

With Kolton and Benedict giving Antony some sage advice, he now has a better viewpoint on why Georgia is able to appeal to the best talent in the country. That connection could help down the road, with a likely battle with Clemson and countless other offers that are sure to come.

"That said a lot to me, and now I know when I make my decision, it will be because I know where I am supposed to be. It was good to hear from two guys who were big time prospects that want to go to Georgia," said Anthony.

Anthony now plans to visit Georgia again in the fall, and he is thinking about taking extra classes to be eligible for early graduation Wren High School.



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