Exit Interview: Purdue WR Jackson Anthrop
From making seven catches for 82 yards and two TDs in his first game--vs. Louisville--to notching five grabs for 74 yards vs. Tennessee in his final contest in the Music City Bowl, it was quite a ride for Jackson Anthrop.
Anthrop capped his Purdue career with his best season, making 53 catches for 574 yards and five TDs to go along with 23 carries for 83 yards. And he also ran back punts and kickoffs. Anthrop did it all as one of the team's most versatile and valuable players in a memorable 9-4 2021 season.
The 5-11, 190-pound Anthrop leaves Purdue with an enduring legacy as the ultimate teammate whose patience, sacrifice and quiet work ethic paid off in a storybook career. The record books will show Anthrop made 148 catches--ranking among the top 20 in Purdue annals--for 1,420 yards and 11 TDs in a career that spanned six seasons and produced countless memories.
Anthrop spoke to GoldandBlack.com for an Exit Interview.
GoldandBlack.com: How are you preparing for the NFL draft?
Anthrop: My family and I decided it would be best to stay local. From talking to other other people, as well, it's best to always be around people that know you and want to spend the time to invest in you because they care about you. That's kind of what this town has done my entire life, is everyone cares for one another.
So, I kind of want to keep that going and work with our strength staff and everything that they've got, the experience that they have. Even Coach (West Lafayette High School track coach Lane) Custer. He worked with my brother throughout his years to get him kind of caught up on speed on technique and everything like that. So, I always thought that was kind of a good path to follow. I always kind of want to follow with what my brother's done. Just learning from the best and the local people that have invested in me and I've invested in them, just to kind of carry on this journey with them and I'm excited to do that.
GoldandBlack.com: I know you want to play in the NFL, but would you consider the USFL or XFL?
Anthrop: I haven't really thought about that. I'm always kind of striving for the top thing. I know it's a tough climb. But, at the same time, that's why we play this game. We all take a different path. Everyone has a different path to get to where they're going. Some people are going in the first-round, second-round, third-round. Some people are undrafted free-agents, and they make a big name for themselves in the NFL. So, that's kind of where I'm striving to be. Everything else, we'll see where that falls after that. But, at the same time, my goal is to be where all the best guys are at.
GoldandBlack.com: What did you learn from Danny going through this process?
Anthrop: Just to stay patient. It's a long journey. But, at the same time, it's supposed to be enjoyable. And I know that these last few weeks, they've been pretty stressful and hectic, trying to get everything figured out and trying to get the pieces in the right place. But, really, just stay patient, stay focused and really to just use those around you, appreciate them and let them know that you appreciate them and then really just stay focused. You don't have to go somewhere to get a video or something like that or do all the fancy things. You just got to do what you know what to do best. And I think that's kind of what we've been doing and just putting your head down and just grinding and just seeing where the pieces fall after that.
GoldandBlack.com: Who influenced you most during your time at Purdue?
Anthrop: There are so many. It's like a family around here. Personally, I'd say my parents have had a huge influence on me throughout this process. I think they missed one game my entire career. And I think that was the Nevada one. Danny's played a huge role. I wouldn't be where I'm at right now if it wasn't for Danny and the sacrifices that he had to make, on and off the field, especially with his injuries and stuff like that. All my brothers played a huge role in the process.
I can throw in Coach (Gerad) Parker. He has been a huge, huge influence on me and just kind of getting me going in my college career and getting me an opportunity.
And you can't leave out Coach (JaMarcus) Shephard. He's almost like an uncle to me. He's been there if I ever needed anything. He's always told it to me straight. He's never lied to me. He's never sugarcoated anything with me. And I think that's helped me tremendously throughout this process, especially with how hectic college football can be. So, I give a lot of credit to Coach Shephard and the time that he's put into me and in the way that he pushed me over the years. It definitely formed me into the football player that I am today. Kind of the way that he coaches and the way that he presents himself, I think the room kind of took hold of how he does things. I just want to say I'm thankful for him because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be the football player that I am today.
GoldandBlack.com: Do you feel like you reached your potential at Purdue?
Anthrop: I think so. There are so many challenges, ups and downs throughout a career. You go from being on the top of the world freshman year to getting kicked down to the bottom it felt like when Rondale (Moore) came in. But, at the same time, it's almost like that was a blessing, in a weird way. I took it as that. I took it as an opportunity to learn from one of the best. I helped Rondale with the playbook, whatever he needed, answering phone calls. But, at the end of the day, I probably learned more from him than he learned from me. So, just being able to be in that process with him, it was humbling. You learn to be a better teammate through scenarios like that. You don't want to be a distraction, just doing whatever you can to help the team and learning how special teams work. And then getting thrown back into the role when Rondale got hurt. You had to be ready to go.
After that, when he ended up leaving, it was kind of the moment that Coach Brohm kind of allowed me to have. It was awesome being able to do running back and receiver, as well as the return game. They utilized me as much as they could. I think there's more that you can get out of me. I really believe that. This year was just kind of the taste of what I can fully do. So, being able to build off this year will be huge for the next level.
GoldandBlack.com: What was your high point individually and as a team?
Anthrop: I know we lost it, but the Louisville game was one that I'll never forget. First college game in Lucas Oil, a place that I'd already played twice. And you're playing against Lamar Jackson and the amount of hype that was going into the game, Coach Brohn's first year. The plays that happened throughout that game. That was one that kind of sticks out.
And, obviously, the Ohio State game in 2018. That was something that no one's gonna forget. And probably the Michigan State game. I'd say that one was pretty memorable, individually, with the play, and also just how hard everyone fought as a team.
And then just to cap it off, probably the Tennessee game, making a couple big plays and how everyone stepped up. Seeing how everybody came together, just to fill the pieces and just absolutely scrap and claw and grind for a win at the end.
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GoldandBlack.com: How do you think the receiver unit will shape up next season?
Anthrop: It's gonna be very talented. You have a good amount of experience. It's not going to be like this year where you had a decent amount of older guys that played a lot of ball. But at the same time, you've got Broc Thompson who's going be an elite player, a great leader who cares about his teammates. You are going to have T.J. Sheffield, who I think is going to really explode, as long as he keeps his head down and keep working and leads, as well.
On the outside, Abdur (Rahmaan Yaseen) and Mershawn (Rice) and all those guys, I think they're still tapping into what they can fully do. We kind of got a taste this year, and unfortunately injuries kind of got them. But that happens. I hope they get back quicker than ever.
Then you got a lot of young guys. Preston Terrell I think as long as he stays focused and gets in the playbook and really focuses on what he can do, I think he'll be a huge piece. And then even Deion (Burks), he's kind of a loose cannon a little bit. You never knew what he was going to do. But he's a very talented athlete. Towards the last couple weeks, he was really locked in on what he needed to do and we always said: 'Just know what you need to do.' And I think he really took that to heart and it really showed the last few weeks, especially in the bowl game when he came up with a huge play.
GoldandBlack.com: David Blough, Elijah Sindelar, Jack Plummer, Aidan O'Connell, who did you like catching passes from the most?
Anthrop: They're all just tremendous quarterbacks. Elijah was one of the most gifted guys that I've ever been around. All-around athlete, baseball, basketball, football and even golf, it didn't matter. They all were able to perform at a high level.
David is one of the hardest workers that I know. And he taught me a lot. I think I spent more time with David more than any of them just because I knew him when he first got to Purdue. Him and Danny were good friends and he'd come out to the house. I think I was a sophomore or junior in high school, it was right before I came to a workout at Purdue and he was out there throwing to me and just teaching me stuff. I thought that was very nice.
Then you have Aidan and Jack, kind of like the same little duo. And they're both just tremendous guys, tremendous leaders. And they really care about their teammates in the game. Jack, he took a different path. And that was what was best for him. And I'm happy for him. I hope he does very well out at Cal. I think he will.
And then you have Aidan, who I think kind of resembles David in a way. They both have that confidence and they spend a lot hours in the film room, especially with players, staying out after and throwing. Aidan's probably the most pure passer that I've ever been around. Very accurate, and you really never know where he's gonna go with the ball. A lot of guys, they're taught to kind of peek over here more than others. But Aidan, he'll come to you to the very last read when you're not even expecting it. I think that's one thing that kind of makes him special is he goes through every single scenario. And he knows where it's going to go and everyone has to be on their toes ready for the ball.
GoldandBlack.com: Any last words, Jackson?
Anthrop: I just hope that I made everyone proud in the area, whether it was coming from the local high school. ... I hope I gave some people some joy, not only as a football player, but also as a person. And I appreciate everyone that's helped me throughout this journey. I know there are so many people to thank. Just know that I know who they are. Just know that I gave it my all. I played my hardest for Purdue and that's all I ever wanted to do.
And I just hope I made people proud and I hope I'll be known as someone that is a good teammate, a good person who just wanted to give everything I had every single Saturday. I hope I got that across and I hope that kids might see me as someone that they want to not really idolize but as someone that they might want to see themselves as one day, just come to play at Purdue. Or even if it's not at Purdue, at the same level, really any level. Just treat people with respect, do the right thing and just prove yourself every single day.
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