Think back to something you did when you were 17 years old. How about 18?
When I was 17, I was in Grease at Papillion-La Vista High School (along with Adrian Whitsett!). At 18, I saw my first Atlanta Braves game in person at Chase Field in Arizona.
At 17, Monte Anthony became one of Nebraska football’s leading rushers, a rare true freshman starting at a perennial powerhouse. He did all of that while taking 27 credit hours worth of classes at Nebraska, according to national broadcasters during the 1974 Sugar Bowl.
MONTE ANTHONY WAS JUST 17 YEARS OLD.
Hard to imagine the pressure this man faced at such a young age. KETV’s Andrew Ozaki asked Anthony about it a few weeks ago, when Anthony was inducted into Bellevue East High School’s Hall of Fame.
“It was fantastic,” said Anthony. “Actually, Coach Osborne, I see as a father figure. He taught me perseverance, team work, and that you can get out there and get it done if you want to get it done.”
The night before the Sugar Bowl, Coach Osborne also taught Anthony a tough lesson about responsibility. Anthony told me he was out with his family and missed curfew. He still clearly recalls what Coach Osborne told him.
“You’re a freshman, you can’t do that!” said Anthony. He remembers running laps and then riding the bench in the first half of that big bowl game.
It had to be torture watching this one from the sidelines. At the half, Florida had shut out Nebraska 10-0. Coach Osborne came out of the locker room with a new plan.
“Tom called upon me,” said Anthony. “I was totally shocked and stunned.”
Photo courtesy of HuskerMax.com!
Anthony was ready to deliver for his team and in the 4th quarter he had his chance.
“Tony Davis (Husker fullback) took me by the face mask when the play was called and said ‘we are taking this in’,” described Anthony. “You knew the entire team was one.”
Anthony dove into the end zone and scored Nebraska’s only touchdown of the game. It was enough; that drive sparked two more field goals and Nebraska beat Florida 13-10.
One of my favorite parts about these highlights, aside from the SMASHING 1974 broadcast journalist attire, is the commentary.
“Many college football players are fine students, but few if any can equal the dual performance of Nebraska’s Monte Anthony on the field and in the classroom,” said ABC’s Don Tollefson. “In the classroom, he was piling up 27 semester credits while excelling in different courses like calculus, chemical engineering and computer science.”
“I actually received 10 hours of calculus credit my first semester by taking the 3rd semester math course,” Anthony told me. “In reality, I was only physically taking 17 hours and got credit for 27.”
If you’ve been in college, you know 17 hours is STILL an incredible commitment for any student, let alone a student athlete. But THAT is part of the message Monte Anthony wants high school and college athletes to take away from his time at Nebraska.
“I would say make sure you’re prepared. Not only physically, but mentally,” said Anthony. “Really, it starts in high school. Align yourself with good people. Make good decisions and your first couple of years, really get the program down as far as academics.”
Anthony was pretty darn good ON the field as well as off. He was Nebraska’s leading rusher from 1974-1975, racking up 1,310 yards in just two seasons. He was drafted in the 8th round in 1978 by Baltimore. Still, it was ultimately that academic foundation that would come to use in his career, as he came back to Omaha when his playing days were over. Anthony is now in project management at First Data. He has two daughters and speaks to young kids about the lessons he’s learned and his favorite moments as a Nebraska Cornhusker.
“Of course, I wish we would’ve had a lot bigger linemen as they do today!” Anthony joked. “It was really the experience, the fans, the team. But scoring is always the best.”
And while Monte Anthony can certainly look back at that 17 and 18 year old Husker with pride, he’s not living in the past by any means.
“Just loving Omaha, loving Nebraska and living the good life!” said Anthony.