French defensive back Tony Anderson persevering through speed bumps

At the CFL Global Combine held in Paris, France, maybe the most competitive combine of the three held so far, cornerback Tony Anderson from Elancourt, France, stood out.

At 6’4″, 215 pounds, he is big for a corner, but to the CFL’s Director of Global Scouting, Greg Quick, he was built for the 12 man game:

“Tony showed an excellent change of direction and field vision but also had a studious side. He’s the guy who’ll be taking notes during film sessions.”

Growing up in a country where football is a niche sport, Anderson was attracted early on to the physicality of football compared to soccer, by far the most popular sport in France. And from day one, he wanted to play defense.

“My favorite position was and is corner. I loved the challenge of lining up against someone all game. One on one.”

Driven. Committed. Dedicated. All three could be used to describe Anderson who was determined to move from his club team in France, Les Templiers D’Elancourt to a school in the United States. One of his teammates had recommended Santa Barbara City College. He said it was like a Div. I program with great coaching and with no scholarships would be an excellent atmosphere.

It was and he excelled. It was a good first step.

Photo: Lionel Friederich

His plan had been to get to a Division one school but that plan changed. Unbeknownst to him, his eligibility had been eaten up by his club play in France. So he settled on Grand View, an NAIA school in Iowa. He finished his senior season leading the team in interceptions with four on the season along with 14 defended passes and 48 tackles.

This is when his drive really kicked in. He emailed every agent on the NFLPA website. He found one. That was all he needed. After attending the Northern Iowa Pro Day, he was invited to the Indianapolis Colts rookie minicamp.  Although he sprained his knee on Day 2 and was cut he persisted and found his way to the Rams camp.

Same thing. His knee let him down again. Still, he was rated highly.

He was not deterred. This time he spent the entire summer and into the fall working on getting his knee healthy, improving his footwork and his hips. He went to the NFL Combine in Cologne, Germany in October.

Still did not make the cut.

Then, Pierre Trochet, Head of Business Operations for the French Federation of American Football called asking him if he would like to take part in the CFL Global Combine. He jumped at the chance. He had time to prepare.

“I had worked with a track and field coach but this time the key was not to overtrain, my biggest problem before. I had done my homework on the Canadian game and knew which routes to prioritize. And I was motivated, although motivation has never been an issue with me.”

All these global players will be asked to play special teams. Asked if this was a problem, Anderson was adamant it wasn’t:

“I was the nation’s leading punt and field goal blocker at Santa Barbara. I love playing special teams.”

Anderson is well aware of the differences in the Canadian game but relishes the challenge he said. “I love learning so this is just a new, exciting phase of my football career.”

Greg Quick is convinced Anderson has a good chance of making a team after working on his strength and explosiveness:

“Once he adds some muscle, he has a chance to excel in our league. He really understands his role and could also even fit in at linebacker.”

Photos: Lionel Friederich







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.