BY CLAYTON RICHER – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
The Toronto Blue Jays have their very own Bo Jackson in the making at the University of Southern Mississippi in the likes of two-sport star Anthony Alford. The 18-year-old is a Blue Jays minor league outfielder come summer and a Golden Eagles quarterback once classes commence and the school bell is rung.
Alford, a native of Columbia, Mississippi, was drafted by the Blue Jays in the third round, 112th overall of the 2012 amateur baseball draft. Alford was slotted as the 36th best player in the draft by Baseball America but his stock plummeted due to signability issues and his intention on playing football. The Jays rolled the dice on Alford even after knowing his intention to attend Southern Mississippi on a football scholarship.
“I told them that my plans were to go to school and play football and baseball but at the same time I was leaving my options open. I decided to sign with the Blue Jays because they offered me a deal that no other teams offered me.”
“They offered me a deal where I can play summer ball with them every summer until I finish with football. I won’t play a full season until I graduate from college.”
Alford exemplifies a five-tool player with an element of both power and speed on the diamond with his tools still being very raw. Alford was awarded the Gatorade Mississippi Baseball Player of the Year three times during his high school career at Petal High School in Mississippi. The award not only recognizes accomplishments on the field but also academic achievement and moral character on and off the field. Alford describes himself as a “someone who is going to respect the game and give it my all.”
Before heading to university, Alford made his professional baseball debut playing five games in centerfield for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays. In his short tenure with the baby Jays, he smashed his first home run and swiped four bases.
The modest Alford doesn’t recall who the pitcher was when hit his first professional homer.
“I don’t know who the home run was off of. I learned that I have to come ready to work hard every day and learn something new every day.”
Alford is as talented a football player as he is a ball player being named the “State’s Top Football Player of the Year” in both 2010 and 2011. The freshman Golden Eagles quarterback has five rushing touchdowns good for second among quarterbacks in Conference USA although Southern Mississippi is currently winless after a rough 8 game start to the season.
Alford plans to weighs his two sport options but it currently appears football may be have the upper hand if he had to choose with his heart.
“If I could go pro in either sport, I would want to go in football because that had always been my dream. I think I have a bigger advantage in baseball because I’m already in a professional organization.”
Alford credits his older brother as his baseball mentor and grew up a Yankees fan and loyal Derek Jeter supporter, guess we will have to forgive him for that one. Alford has the makeup and character to be successful in whatever sport he decides to pursue.
Here is hoping in the words of Bo Jackson- “Anthony Knows Baseball”
Clayton Richer is a baseball writer for Baseball Hot Corner, his interviews and blogs can be found daily at www.baseballhotcorner.com as well you can also follow him on twitter MLBHotCorner
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