Swedish lineman Anton Warhby at Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks minicamps

Anton Wahrby is finishing up his exams in his final semester at Wofford College (NCAA Div. I) in South Carolina but he has also been taking exams of another sort.

NFL exams.

The 6’3″, 305 lb offensive guard, a native of Karlskrona, Sweden, attended the Kansas City Chiefs mini camp two weeks ago and then was at the two-day Seatlle, Saehawks minicamp last weekend. So far, he has not been signed but he is ready for another “test” at any time.

Wahrby has spent the past four years playing for the Wofford Terriers where in his senior year, when he started all 14 games, he helped the Terriers to a 10-4 overall record. While recording 160 knockdown blocks, he was part of an offensive line that blocked for the nation’s fourth-ranked rushing offense, and allowed just three sacks on the season to rank second in the country. Over the course of his career, Wahrby made 43 starts on the offensive line, and was an All-Southern Conference First Team selection in addition to earning Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll distinction.

Wahrby carried a 3.83 GPA studying business economics and French, and was recognized as an FCS ADA Academic All-Star in 2015 and 2016. He originally went to South Carolina as an exchange student in high school.

Wahrby got his start in football playing for his club, the Carlscrona Seahawks but moved over to the much bigger club, the Kristianstad Predators.  The Predators played in Sweden’s Division 1 and while there he came under the tutelage of head coach Jon Walker. Walker recognized something special in Wahrby (his size notwithstanding) and encouraged him to pursue his passion at another level.

“He was a beast and I loved to coach him. He elevated all the players around him to play at a different level.”

The pair worked at sending out film and Wofford was the first to offer him a scholarship. He has not looked back since.

We asked Anton about his experiences at the NFL camps and his future.

American Football International: Do you remember when and how you got interested in American football?

Anton Wahrby: I went to my first football practice in August 2006, right before my 14th birthday. A classmate had played for a year or two and convinced me to join him. After that, I practiced for two years but my hometown club (the Carlskrona Seahawks) didn’t have enough players to field a team. Another friend I went to school with who had played for the Seahawks in my first year had started commuting to Kristianstad (and hour and a half train ride away) where Tyson Guillen was HC of the Kristanstad Predators’ youth team. I played my first season of football for the Predators U-17 squad in the summer of 2008 and we won the SM-gold that year. I made the Swedish U-16 National Team in the fall of 2008 and at that point I knew I loved football and was going to do anything I could to get as good as I could be.

AFI: Coach Walker has said a lot of nice things about you. How much of an influence has he been?

Wahrby:  I had a great time playing for Coach Walker during my last season in Sweden; he is the definition of a player’s coach. He helped me out greatly in the recruiting process in the fall of 2012, from making an effective highlight film to just letting me know the ins and outs of the recruiting process, and my plan in case I didn’t get an offer was to go play at American River College in Sacramento (JC) where he coached before coming to Sweden.

Photo: Wofford College

AFI: You went to minicamps for the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks. How did you feel about them?

Wahrby: I enjoyed both minicamps a lot. I learned a ton of football at both, it’s amazing how much knowledge the coaches have at that level. There were some differences, and the Seahawks definitely stood out in terms of the way they do things. Everything from meetings to walkthroughs and practice are very fast-paced and always involve an element of competition (there were basketball shoot-offs in the team meetings, for example).

AFI: Did you feel like you could compete?

Wahrby:  Yes, for sure – and so could everybody else. There were 60-70 players at both minicamps, none of whom have actually played in the NFL yet, but they are all quality players and athletes. The challenge at the minicamps are not physical, first because most people are pretty similar in terms of physical capabilities and athleticism (of course, there are those who stand out, but there are only a few high draft picks out of the 60-70 rookies on every team). Second, we only practice in helmets and shorts and avoid going to the ground as much as possible. Instead, the challenge is being able to learn the schemes fast and executing calls and assignments.

AFI: What do you think have to do to get to the next level.

Wahrby: There is room for improvement in all aspects of my game. Technique in the run and pass game and furthering my football knowledge, understanding schemes and defenses better and quicker are all things that will help me.

AFI: You had a very successful college career. What did you think the biggest difference was between the college game and the NFL?

Wahrby: One thing that I’ve reflected on is that in college, you can take your time to develop as a player (understanding the playbook, improving your physique, etc). In the NFL, it’s more of a plug-and-play deal, you have to be good enough right away to stay on with a team. For example, when I first got to Wofford in the spring of 2013, I had a full month to learn our plays before we started spring practice. At the minicamps, there is one or two install meetings and a night or two of studying, and then you have to know your stuff (not the whole playbook in one night, obviously) so you must pick up things quickly.

AFI: How many more opportunities are there for you this year?

Wahrby: As of right now, I’m not sure. My agent has been reaching out to teams but most 90-man rosters are already set for training camps this year.

AFI: Have you considered the CFL?

Wahrby: As of right now, not really. Since I got back from Seattle on Sunday I’ve been focused on finishing up my classes and taking my final exams.

AFI: What does your family think about all of this?

Wahrby: They have been very excited. They’ve made it for a game a year ever since my sophomore year and loved it every time. The NFL stuff has them excited as well, and they certainly like the fact that I’m able to get a quality education while playing the sport I love.

I want to thank all the coaches I’ve had the opportunity to play for so far, especially those in Sweden where the majority are volunteers who coach football in addition to working full-time and taking care of their families. Football has given me tremendous opportunities, but none of it would have been possible without the hours of work those coaches put in. Also, if anyone out there is trying to go play college football from outside the US, please feel free to reach out if you’ve got questions or want some advice. Twitter: @wahrby

 

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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