EAST LANSING – Andrel Anthony attended high school less than two miles from Spartan Stadium, setting the East Lansing program record for most career receiving yards.
The former three-star receiver was a prime target for the State of Michigan in the 2021 class and was once considered a skinny Spartans when recruited.
But Anthony decided to sign with the Wolverines and had largely remained buried in the depths chart for the first seven games of the season. That changed on Saturday in his hometown.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound player’s first career landing was a 93-yard touchdown in Michigan’s first practice game against MSU. After Cade McNamara hit him in stride on a crossing road, he lit the jets and passed the Spartans defense en route to the end zone.
But Anthony was not finished. He finished with six catches for a top 155 yards in a 37-33 loss.
“He collapsed,” McNamara said. “This first game really got us started in the first half. I am proud of him. He put in a great performance today and we’re going to have confidence in him, especially since it’s really the greatest experience he’s had in a game.
Anthony also caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from another true freshman JJ McCarthy, giving Michigan a 20-14 lead at 3:45 of the second quarter. Anthony won his head-to-head clash in the end zone to reclaim McCarthy’s throw.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh was terse in his post-game press conference, but praised Anthony’s play.
“He played exceptionally,” he said. “Really proud of Andrel.
Michigan lost senior Ronnie Bell to a season-ending injury to Western Michigan, and the Wolverines have been looking for a reliable outlet ever since.
Anthony burst onto the scene on Saturday as one of the team’s main receivers against MSU.
“Pay attention to the details,” Harbaugh said Monday of Anthony’s progress. “He trained very well. I know I’ve been saying this for a while now, but he did. He trained well. He’s been able to take that from the boardroom to the training ground, from the training ground to the game situations.
“What he did he deserved by the way he trained and played.”
Michigan did not make Anthony available to the media on Saturday, but senior center Andrew Vastardis came away impressed with his performance.
“He came out, chip on his shoulder, made plays,” Vastardis said. “It’s good to see young people arriving. Another weapon in the toolbox for the future.