The Pittsburgh Steelers’ fourth-round draft pick, Anthony McFarland Jr., hopes to make an impact and change things up for the offense. The 124th overall pick is a versatile and explosive player out of the University of Maryland.
McFarland’s Upbringing in Maryland
McFarland grew up in Hyattsville, Maryland. His experience in youth and high school football impressed coaches like Mike Locksley, the head coach at the University of Maryland.
According to Locksley, McFarland is a legendary football player in Maryland and its surrounding states.
The running back attended DeMatha Catholic High School, an already well-known program, where he played alongside former Ohio State defensive end Chase Young.
Throughout his high school career, McFarland faced hardship in the form of injuries. During his senior season, he broke his leg and was unable to play for the rest of the year.
“I try to not get so down on myself or beat myself up so much because I know the things that I’ve been through,” McFarland said.
From College Prospect to Fourth Round Draft Pick
Despite schools like Alabama, Miami and Georgia showing interest in McFarland, he ultimately decided to stay close to home and play for the Maryland Terrapins.
After redshirting his freshman year, McFarland had two successful seasons before foregoing the rest of his eligibility and declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.
As a redshirt freshman, he averaged 7.9 yards per carry. With 1,034 rushing yards and four touchdowns, he broke Maryland’s freshman rushing record. In 2019, he ran for 614 yards and eight touchdowns.
“His speed is the name of his game,” Locksley said. “He’s a tough tackle in the open field.”
McFarland, who is no stranger to adversity, fought through several obstacles during his time at Maryland. One of these misfortunes was the loss of teammate Jordan McNair, who suffered a heat stroke during spring workouts and passed 14 days later.
“My experience at Maryland was a lot of ups and downs,” McFarland said. “Everything that we went through. Coming in freshman year, me having to redshirt. Coming in after that, losing our teammate Jordan McNair who I came in with. It was a lot of ups and downs on and off the field. But ultimately I’m glad that I could experience those things when I could because it made me who I am today and how I got to this point I’m at.”
Challenges aside, McFarland managed to catch the attention of the Pittsburgh Steelers during his time as a Terrapin.
Don’t even seem real.. im ready to work ❤️ https://t.co/JRdGYkKjnZ
— Anthony Mcfarland Jr (@AnttMacc_) April 25, 2020
What McFarland Means for Steelers’ Run Game
Steelers’ running back coach Eddie Faulkner thinks McFarland brings a unique skill set to the backfield.
“He’s really explosive,” Faulkner said during an interview with reporters. “He’s a little different type of runner, which I think makes us more valuable as a group.”
The Steelers’ fourth-round draft pick is eager to get to work alongside players who are rooting for his success. Together, they plan to turn the Steelers’ offense around.
@AnttMacc_ let’s work! 🙏🏽
— James Conner (@JamesConner_) April 25, 2020
For the last two seasons, the Steelers’ run game has suffered as a result of transitioning players and an inability to intertwine their scheme and personnel.
Tomlin hopes that McFarland will be the addition the backfield needs in order to fix this problem.
“So, he’s going to have an opportunity to contribute,” Tomlin told Locksley when the two were live on Instagram together. “There’s a natural niche for him there and we’re excited about getting them into the fold and letting him do what he does.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Behind the Steel Curtain
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