Local product Danny Anthrop, who had about 1,400 receiving yards during his career, played for the Boilermakers from 2012-2015. Throughout the season, Anthrop will offer unique insight for GoldandBlack.com into Purdue, its program and players, and his experiences playing for the Boilermakers.
The first time I played football was in fourth grade.
I started because I thought it would be fun. I remember the first day when I came home with my pads and I went out to the yard with my brothers. We tried our best to knock each other out. From that moment, the love of the game started to grow in me.
I had no idea how far football would take me in life that day in the front yard.
And now, after 15 years playing the sport, I have decided to walk away from football. I believe my calling in life is to help people. I recently have been hired by the Lafayette Police Department as a police officer. Before I take that next step, I wanted to take a look back.
I lucked into playing with arguably some of the best teams, under one of the best coaches and coaching staff in state history at Central Catholic. I was truly blessed in high school with teammates that I grew up with, and a future hall of fame coach in Kevin O'Shea. I also had Jim Schrader as a football coach and mentor from the first day I started playing until my final varsity game. The skills and values he instilled in me helped guide me in football and in life.
He's probably the reason DBs wanted to kill me in college for cut blocking them any chance I had.
The first people to believe in me were my parents, John and Jana. Especially my dad. He took me all over the country to earn an opportunity at the collegiate level. We went to just under 20 college camps the summer before my senior year. I think his favorite part of each one was when coaches would make me run the 40-yard dash over and over, being skeptical that someone who looked like me could be running in the 4.3s.
Going into my senior year, I had a handful of offers, but not the one my heart wanted most: I had bled gold and black my whole life and wanted nothing more than to represent the Boilermakers on the field.
On Sept. 21, 2011, Coach Hope invited me on a visit to meet with him. That was the day he offered me the opportunity of a lifetime and gave me a scholarship to Purdue University. I committed before the meeting was over. I can never thank Coach Hope enough for taking a risk on me, a 0-star recruit at the time.
I couldn't have ever dreamed of how far football would take me or the lessons I would learn along the way. I believe that football has taught me a lot about life.
Football taught me about adversity.
Sometimes adversity is easy to see, like a top-ranked defense you have to play that week. Other times it happens in an instant, and turns your world upside down. Whether it's an opponent scoring on the opening drive, or tearing your ACL, the key is how you respond. When I hit the turf in Lincoln, Neb., I knew I was done. Actually, tearing my ACL was the easy part. The only lesson I learned there was to go out of bounds a little more. The hard part was the grind of rehab. Every. Single. Day. Wake up 6 a.m. for rehab, basically inflict pain upon yourself for two hours, only to do it all the next day. That six months to a year-long process taught me a lot about humility and gratitude. I learned to look on the bright side of a bad situation. An example of looking on the bright side is how I felt awful about not being able to finish the 2014 season, and that was hard to accept. But I also realized I tore my ACL on Nov. 1 and the new Call of Duty came out a week later, so now I could play Xbox until my eyes bled.
During my years at Purdue, I shared the locker room with individuals from every walk of life. We had people from all over the United States. We had guys of every race. There were Christians, Muslims and Jews, among other faiths represented on those teams, and atheists. The guys also spanned the entire socioeconomic spectrum. A Division I football team is one of the most diverse groups of people you can find. As David Blough said in his speech at the Big Ten kickoff luncheon, "That's the beauty of football, and that's the beauty of life." The differences we had didn't divide us. We respected each other, we trusted each other and, at the end of the day, we really loved each other. It was a beautiful thing to see and be a part of — a group of people so different that got along so well and worked together.
I wish everyone in America could experience something like that.
Football has been my life for a long time. I loved every second of the journey, and I wouldn't trade my experiences for the world.
It was with clear eyes and a full heart I decided to walk away. I think I will miss football.
Actually, I already do.
But I am so thankful to all the people who helped me during my career. Football took me further in life than I ever imagined. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first put on the pads in my front yard.
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