Practice Tour: Stephone Anthony

WADESBORO, N.C. --- Although the contenders remain the same, Stephone Anthony continues to shuffle the order of his favorite schools list.

Florida still ranks No. 1, but Virginia Tech recently leaped into second place for the five-star linebacker.

"[Virginia Tech has moved up] just [because of my] conversations with Kevin Sherman and Bud Foster," Anthony said. "Really getting to know them better has really helped me out."

In order, North Carolina, Clemson, NC State, and Georgia round out the remainder of Anthony's list.

Anthony, who plans on announcing his collegiate destination at the Under Armour All-American Game, is now concentrating on scheduling official trips.

"I want to take my officials and see where I really like," Anthony said. "I want to find a place with good people, where I fit in [socially], where I fit in the scheme of the defense, and surround myself with a bunch of guys that want to win."

Anthony says Clemson, Florida, UNC, and Virginia Tech will receive an official visit. Meanwhile, Georgia and NC State will battle for his fifth and final spot.

"We're going to sit down, look at our schedule, [and] look at [the colleges'] schedules, so we can maximize his time [on a visit] and minimize school loss," Anson County head football coach Luke Hyatt said.

Anthony is in the process of finalizing his first official trip – Florida for the weekend of Sept. 25. Anson County is on a bye that weekend and the Gators will host Kentucky.

Anthony's four remaining official visits will likely take place after his senior football season.

Although Anthony and teammate Brandon Ellerbe both plan to officially visit Clemson and UNC, Anthony says that they aren't attempting to take any official trips together. Furthermore, his decision won't be influenced by Ellerbe's verbal commitment to the Tar Heels.

"It really doesn't affect me much, because he has to be happy and I have to be happy where I go to school," Anthony said.

In addition to his official visits, Anthony plans take attend several college games this fall. He is eyeing the Clemson-UNC game in Chapel Hill and Florida-LSU game in Gainesville.

It's impossible to find someone associated with high school football in North Carolina who isn't aware of Anthony. Thus, Hyatt is charged with the tricky task of counteracting opponents' game planning to avoid Anthony.

It began last season when Anthony was moved inside after starting both his freshman and sophomore seasons at weak-side linebacker and accumulating 14 interceptions.

"We put him right in the middle so they can't run away from him," Hyatt said. "If I'm on the offensive side of the ball, I'm going to make sure I know where Stephone Anthony is at and make sure I have a couple of guys assigned to him.

"But [Anthony] is going to do what he did last year – he's going to run to the football, he's going to make plays in pass coverage."

In his first season at middle linebacker, Anthony totaled 120 tackles and four interceptions.

Although he may not start on offense for Anson County, Anthony will receive 10-20 touches a game, particularly in critical moments.

"He and Brandon both are pretty versatile – these guys can line up at so many different places," Hyatt said. "Brandon can line up at quarterback, he can line up at tailback, [and] can line up at receiver. Stephone can line up at receiver, fullback, tailback, quarterback, [and] tight end.

"And just because they're in the game doesn't mean they're going to get the ball. Both are big bodies that can help out by blocking."

That versatility has led to college coaches telling Anthony he's capable of playing anywhere in a linebacker corps. However, he projects best as outside linebacker.

Stephone Anthony Profile

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