Faces of the Future: Anthony Sarao

Anthony Sarao, a linebacker from New Jersey, is confident in his tools and believes he can be the Trojans' next defensive star.

On June 16th, Anthony Sarao will make a big move. He'll pack his bags, kiss his family, and say goodbye to Atlantic City and "hola" to Los Angeles. To most newly turned 18-year olds, moving across country alone would be daunting. For California, of all places, it's downright scary.

But Sarao, a big piece in USC's incoming class, isn't threatened or scared.

"When I came out [to USC] in February, it wasn't much different [than New Jersey]," Sarao said. "Just the weather and casinos were."

For a linebacker at USC, one of the most storied positions in college football, not being scared is probably to his benefit.

So rather than ask him how he feels about the move, determining if he's ready to make a move may be a better assessment.

Anthony Sarao is looking to excel on and off the field at USC.
"That linebacking core is strong [at USC] but it's not as strong as it has been. If I can handle the playbook then I think I can make it better," he said. "I have the playbook now and I'm looking through it."

If confidence were sole proof of one's ability to succeed at the next level, Sarao redshirting seems unlikely.

But questions remain about the 6'1, 220 pounder's size.

Luckily for Sarao, who assisted in over 50 tackles last season and recorded 28 on his own, his confidence is bigger than his body.

"I don't have that much body fat. All the stuff I put on, people say I need to get up to 230 [pounds] but I look bigger than guys [that size]. I have to keep my speed," he said.

Sarao isn't looking past 2011. He said his goal is to be a starter, now. Slated at the weakside, he has work ahead of him to reach that goal. But the Jersey native worked to earn a 4.0 GPA at Holy Spirit High School and originally committed to Stanford. Working hard actually works in Sarao's favor.

"I'm not Valedictorian or anything like that. I [just] do my homework. I study for my tests. I don't really slack off," he said.

While optimistic, Sarao is also realistic.

"The day I get to USC I could get hurt," he said. "So I have to have a back up plan. If I keep studying I know it will pay off."

He said if football doesn't work out, he probably wants a career in sports medicine. Whether he's pouring over course books or the playbook, studying ought to provide dividends for Sarao.

"My technique and knowledge [helps me]. I know I'm smart enough to deal with option teams. A lot of kids have talent not everybody has technique and knowledge, when it comes down to it," he said.

A Scout.com four-star recruit, Sarao was the first Spartan to be selected in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. His go-go-gadget vision helps him in traffic or in the open field. His junior year, he recorded 122 tackles, including 11 sacks and an interception.

Sarao said his high school ran a defensive scheme similar to USC. Last year, the Spartans went 12-0 and were ranked third in the state. Making big plays and winning is Sarao's cup of tea. He's handled that pressure before. It's why he wanted to be a Trojan.

"It wasn't about being in LA. It was about USC," he said. "I got the sense that they're hungry, that they want to win a championship again, that they felt like they had to prove people wrong."

Maybe Sarao, with little fear, can prove that he is meant to be in that linebacker core. Maybe Sarao, with his knowledge, can help the Trojans find a way to be those champions again.

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