GAINESVILLE — When Tampa native Anthony Harrell finished his business administration degree at Georgia Tech, he had one more year of eligibility left.
After helping the Yellow Jackets advance to two ACC title games, the former linebacker at Jesuit High chose to follow the path of his father, former NFL linebacker James Harrell, and spend his final year in college at Florida.
The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Harrell, a contributor on special teams and in goal-line packages.
What drew you to Florida? You were a graduate transfer; you could have gone any number of places.
Really just the great tradition. My dad played here. My sister went here. It's been in the family for a while. It's always been my dream school, really. Once the opportunity came when I graduated and decided I wanted to leave Tech, this opportunity was presented. It was a dream come true.
Florida's program had been down. You chose to come to a program that had struggled. What did you see in it?
I knew (linebackers coach Randy Shannon) from recruiting, when he was at Miami (coaching). He was one of the main reasons. I knew Coach (Jim) McElwain had a good past, coming from Alabama and stuff like that. He had success at Colorado State. I just felt like we could do it. Florida's always had good players. A couple changes and that's where we are now.
How would you compare the talent level and everything else you had at Georgia Tech?
Georgia Tech, there were a couple guys that are big. Here, a lot of people are big. Everyone's bigger, faster.
When you came here, did you think this success was possible?
Everyone's all in. I feel like the possibilities are endless. There's talent everywhere, really. The whole defense is probably the best defense I've been around ever.
You mentioned the family ties with Florida. Did you watch a lot of games in Gainesville as a kid?
I did. They were my favorite team growing up. I always played with them on NCAA (video games), stuff like that. My dad played here. I always wanted to come here growing up.
What have your conversations with your dad been about playing at Florida?
He loves it. He's the one that wanted me to come here. He loves it. He gets to come back to all the games, watch and say, "That's my son down there." Just living out the legacy, pretty much.
Did your dad give you any advice about playing at Florida?
My dad was a walk-on here. When his time was called, he played, did well, got an opportunity to go to the league. Really just take advantage of the opportunity that's presented. Never put your head down. You never know what can happen.
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