football Edit

Purdue commit Stevens' is 'long and athletic' per prep coach

Stevens is a rangy athlete who will bolster the safety ranks in West Lafayette.
Stevens is a rangy athlete who will bolster the safety ranks in West Lafayette. (Rivals.com)

June began slowly from a commitment standpoint for Purdue, but it has gained steam with five verbal pledges this month. And one of the most recent players to commit to the Boilermakers is safety Antonio Stevens.

The 6-2, 185-pound Stevens is a three-star prospect, according to Rivals.com. Last Wednesday, he picked Purdue over several schools. The other finalist? Louisville. He officially visited Purdue on June 7.

Stevens plays for Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn., which is near Nashville. It's a small, private co-ed school that plays Division II-AA football in the three-class Tennessee private school classification.

Stevens tallied 15 tackles with two interceptions in 2018 for BGA, which finished finished Division II-AA state runner-up. He also made 38 catches for 667 yards with nine touchdowns.

GoldandBlack.com visited with the Jonas Rodriguez, the coach at Battle Ground Academy.

GoldandBlack.com: What type of player is Purdue getting?

Rodriguez: He is a very competitive player. He has a really strong work ethic, he cares about his teammates and he is very talented. He has a lot of ability. I think he has a very high ceiling. I am excited to coach him. This is my first year as coach here.

GoldandBlack.com: Is he a leader?

Rodriguez: He has some natural leadership qualities. I am excited to see him grow as a leader. There have been some strong leaders in the past. And I think he’s ready to take over the reins. He is part of a tight senior group. And he is one of the leaders of that group. My first meeting with the team at BGA, I opened up the floor for questions and he was the first one to pipe up and ask questions which I think showed how much he cared and also wanted to improve and get better.

GoldandBlack.com: How will Purdue use him?

Rodriguez: I am not sure what their plans are. I think they want him to play on the defensive side of the ball. He has the ability to play a few different positions. He is tall and he is long and he’s very athletic. I think that’s one thing they probably like about him … his versatility.

GoldandBlack.com: What does he need to improve on?

Rodriguez: I think you always can improve your fundamentals, tackling, block obstructions, reading your key. But having not seen him, it isn’t fair for me to say.

GoldandBlack.com: How will you use him this fall?

Rodriguez: Receiver on offense, and a safety/nickel on defense.

GoldandBlack.com: What type of school is Battle Ground Academy?

Rodriguez: It is an independent private school of about 370 students. It’s a pretty small school. In Tennessee, the private and public schools are split. There is 3A, 2A and 1A. And we are 2A. We are a medium-sized private school. The school was founded on a Civil War battle field in Franklin, Tenn. The Battle of Franklin. It was founded in 1889 as an all-boys military school but became co-ed in the 1980s.

GoldandBlack.com: What other schools were in the running to get his commitment?

Rodriguez: Louisville and Mississippi State were in play.

GoldandBlack.com: And Purdue recruited another player from BGA?

Rodriguez: There are a few kids on our team being recruited at a high level. Purdue liked (CB) Garnett Hollis. (Committed to Northwestern).

GoldandBlack.com: Any famous football-playing alumni from Battle Ground Academy?

Rodriguez: C.J. Beathard played here. He went to Iowa and is with the 49ers. Troy Fleming is the state’s all-time leading rusher. He went to BGA.

GoldandBlack.com: Why do you think he chose Purdue?

Rodriguez: I think he really connected to the staff. And Purdue is a great academic institution. And it’s not that far from middle Tennessee. But the overriding factor was he just felt comfortable with the staff and school.

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