HYATTSVILLE, Md. – DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) class of 2017 running back/receiver Anthony McFarland claims more than 20 offers to date, and he showed why Aug. 29 against Miami Central (Miami, Fla.). The borderline five-star recruit ended up with more than 150 total yards in a 38-14 Stags' victory.
Terrapin Times was on-hand to scout the prime Terps’ target. Our take on his game is below, while our interview with McFarland is in the video above:
McFarland is one of the most dynamic talents to come out of the DMV since Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings). The 5-foot-8, 188-pound receiver/running back is a rare prospect who is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. A combination of raw speed, football speed, make-you-miss moves and deceptive power, McFarland’s a game-changer, known to shred defenses from any spot on the field.
Lined up in the slot or out wide, McFarland excels at taking short dump-offs and immediately exploding upfield. His ability to shoot through the second and third levels is uncanny, the receiver pulling away from fleet-footed safeties and corners. McFarland has true home-run hitter wheels, meaning he tends to gain speed with every stride instead of losing gas.
Moreover, his start-stop acceleration sits at another level, McFarland losing little momentum as he weaves his way through the secondary. He can give a defensive back a slight juke, leave his man flatfooted, and then burst by while maintaining top speed.
On top of that, he’s slippery, running right through arm tackles and lunging defensive backs. It helps that McFarland’s fairly far along physically, possessing a strong base that lets him keep his balance when defenders attempt to trip him up.
What’s truly special, though, is McFarland’s penchant for breaking a tackle and then promptly regaining his speed. On one play in particular, he stayed upright after a safety’s initial hit before accelerating towards the sideline; turning upfileld;, and exploding past two more defensive backs.
As a running back, McFarland has excellent field vision and runs to daylight. He possesses nimble feet and gets skinny in the holes, allowing him to deftly navigate traffic.
And if McFarland is given a small window, he has the initial burst to pop through and motor into the secondary. He’s a one-cut-and-go type, employing little wasted movement.
Plus, McFarland’s a hard runner and can break a tackle or two, pushing for positive yards. Again, he’s deceptively powerful, his leg drive; base; and constantly-moving feet keeping him upright after initial contact.
But, once again, it’s the acceleration, however, that separates McFarland. If he’s not caught at the second level, chances are McFarland’s going to run past the entire defense on his way to pay dirt.
To improve, McFarland has to continue honing his route running and diversifying his arsenal. Right now, he tends to let his athleticism and pure talent take over. As he advances, though, he’ll need to disguise his patterns; bate defensive backs; and become more precise with his footwork.
McFarland has to keep strengthening his hands and working on his pass catching too. He looks to be a soft-handed receiver, but he can become even more natural and fluid when doing so.
Also, McFarland mainly operates in space, so we’d like to see what he can do when attempting to catch passes in traffic. Can he go over the middle, absorb a hit and hold onto to the football? Can he run downfield against double coverage, out-leap, and out-physical defensive backs for a jump ball?
As a running back, McFarland is already close to the ground, but he could probably run with an even lower base, further minimizing his strike area. He has an upright style now, but if he keeps his hips down he’ll become that much more potent and powerful.
Furthermore, McFarland has a tendency to expose the ball once in awhile, carrying it high in his right arm. He hasn’t been victimized yet, but he’ll need to tuck the ball away with two hands, or he’s going to have fumbling issues.
Finally, as with any young recruit, McFarland just needs to keep building up his body. He certainly has the tools and skill-set to succeed at the next level, but must add strength.