Time will tell if Saints linebacker Stephone Anthony will emerge as this season’s star rookie, but right now he’s certainly dressed the part. Training camp is about a month away, and Anthony is outfitted in a dapper suit from Luca Falcone at the brand’s tony man cave of a store on Magazine Street. Going into the season there’s a lot of buzz about the North Carolina native, who was nabbed in the Saints’ second first-round pick in the 2015 draft. Referring to him as a “tackling machine,” a Times-Picayune preseason ranking of players included him at No. 19 – the only rookie on the list. He attended Clemson University, rejecting offers from UNC, Florida and Virginia Tech, and in high school he also played baseball and basketball and ran track. We talked to the promising rookie, who had never been to New Orleans before being drafted, about the upcoming season and settling into his new city, which he’s doing with a two-year-old daughter.
Q: How has New Orleans been so far? It’s been hot (laughs). It’s been enjoyable. I’ve been getting adjusted: finding a place to live, figuring out how you’re going to get around, finding all the new spots in town. I’ve been going out to eat a lot. The food here is amazing. I’ve had a chance to get to some new places. I went with some of the guys to Root, which was a very interesting experience. It was way different, but it was pretty good. Had a chance to try a lot of different things.
Q: What kinds of things are you working on as you’re preparing for the season? I’m just trying to embrace my role, whatever that role is. Pretty much get in where I fit in. Continuing to be who I am, continue to chop wood every day and try to get better every day.
Q: What role do you like to play on a team? I love to be the guy the other guys can look to and, in a sense, find energy. I wanna be the guy who makes everyone around him better. Because essentially that’s what it’s about: You’re only as good
as the player beside you.
Q: In high school you played pretty much every sport. What lead you to ultimately pursue football professionally? I’m not really sure – that’s a good question. I guess the first sport I ever played was baseball. I had a true love for baseball. My older brother ended up starting the sports thing in our family by playing baseball. I just always had this knack for football, and as I started getting attention for it freshman year in high school it drew me that way.
Q: And then you went to Clemson – Yes. I want to brag on Clemson a little bit about how great it is, and what Coach Swinney is doing down there.
Q: Go ahead. I was going to ask what you liked about it because you received offers from a lot of places. Clemson stood out to me because of the atmosphere. Anyone who’s been there can tell you the same story over and over. I think you see the same thing over and over with different guys who have experienced that field … the culture since Coach Swinney’s been there has been like no other. He’s building something special.
Q: What do you like doing – when you’re not playing – to relax? Relax; yeah, exactly. Probably my biggest hobby is that I love to fish. There’s something about getting a fish on the other end of that line – there’s something about it, man. It excites me, relaxes me, gives me time to get away and think about other things than football. I love being able to get out and cast the line in the pond, lake, whatever, see what you pull up.
Q: How would you describe the dynamic of the rookie class? I think it’s a great class. I think it has a chance to be a real good class. I think we definitely have to prove ourselves and find out our identity in a sense. Figure out who we are, who we’re going to be on the team and embrace those roles, and try to make something special.
Q: Have you been exposed to the crazy Saints fanbase yet? A little bit. I had a chance to experience a little bit at the “introduce the rookies to the city” event. Everyone was excited, regardless of what position you play. People were excited to see us, they know who we were. I can definitely tell this is going to be a fun place to play.
Occupation: Saints linebacker Age: 22
Born/raised: Monroe, NC/Wadesboro, NC
Education: Clemson University
Favorite movie: Bad Boys 2
Favorite TV show: “Martin”
Favorite hobby: Fishing
Favorite restaurant: Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Favorite food: “Crab cakes … but all the food I’ve tried in New Orleans so far has been unbelievable.”
Favorite book: The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
Favorite vacation spot: Cancun
I’ve been playing football nearly my entire life, but the most difficult yet enjoyable experience has been becoming a father. It’s a lot of hard work but so rewarding.