EAST LANSING, Mich. - East Lansing High star senior wide receiver Andrel Anthony Jr., one of the top position recruits in the class of 2021, has experienced a wild off-season.
Anthony, who has committed to play at Michigan, wasn’t even sure he would be able to play football this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The season was kind of crazy,” Anthony said. “First they said, no playing at all then they said full go, then it was canceled and it’s just been crazy.”
The drama continued on Sept. 18, as East Lansing High School had to cancel its game against Portage Central because of a positive COVID-19 test from the Mustangs.
“We were pretty disappointed about the game being canceled,” Anthony said. “It was a huge game this week.”
East Lansing usually has headlining games that give some of the players something to look forward to, but due to the adjusted schedule length, there were big time games that had to be cut.
“Usually we play DeWitt every year, but we won’t play them this season, and same with Everett,” said Anthony. “And even though St. Johns isn’t in our conference, they’re always a great team to play.”
Over the summer, Anthony and other members of the football team came in and did a mix of constant lifting and practices with pads.
However, just like all the pandemic changes to 2020, Anthony had to adjust to the times.
“We would really only come in for team lifts and individual workout,” Anthony said.
When he committed to Michigan on July 31, he also announced he would enroll early in college in the Spring. He will graduate from ELHS early, meaning he will move to Ann Arbor in January to take classes and start practicing with the football team.
But all of that was in doubt in August, when the Big Ten postponed the fall season due to COVID-19, and there were discussions about having the schedule played in the spring.
Normally, spring football practices are a chance for new players to integrate into the system. Having a Big Ten season in the spring would mean Anthony would likely be unable to prepare quickly enough to jump from high school to the college level.
Thankfully, Anthony’s path was made clear on Sept. 16, when the Big Ten decided to bring back football by a unanimous vote.
Even before the Big Ten made this move, Anthony always had his mind set on early enrollment. He said leaving the last months of his senior year will be an adjustment, but he plans to use the time he has left to be with his teammates.
“What I’m looking forward to the most this season is having fun with my teammates one more time and developing more of a leadership vocally,” Anthony said. “I think I already lead by example and do a good job, but I try and encourage my teammates and be more vocal.”
Anthony also breaks down plays and routes for his Trojan teammates.
“Instead of getting frustrated at my teammates for making mistakes, I try to help them with plays and anything they need,” said Anthony.
Anthony has a long, thin 6-2 frame. His ability to create separation sets him apart from other wide receivers in the state.
He had a great junior season, racking in just under 1,000 yards, with nine receiving touchdowns. He was an All-State selection in 2019, and had a lot of offers from programs. The biggest factor for Anthony coming to Michigan was how they recruited him.
“Michigan has been recruiting me hard since my sophomore year,” said Anthony. “They really showed a lot of interest in me early, and really showed they had faith in me.”
He also likes Michigan for the academics and the atmosphere of Ann Arbor.
“One of the coaches showed me around campus,” said Anthony. “We went to the business school, some of the dorms and other places that made the decision easier.”
Anthony’s biggest fan and supporter throughout this process is his father, Andrel Anthony Sr. The elder Anthony, who is a CATA driver in East Lansing, is happy with his son’s decision.
“One of the happiest days of my life was when he committed,” Anthony Sr said. “Him being so happy about his choice, made me feel so good as a parent.”
Even though Anthony Sr. and his family grew up in Lansing his entire life, he supported his son's decision in going to Michigan State’s rival.
“He makes it easy on us,” Anthony Sr said. “We are so proud of him.”