THE HUNTER: Exclusive Q&A with Jets rookie LB Anthony Schlegel
By Dan Powell
Jets Staff Writer
July 6th, 2006
Rookie LB Anthony Schlegel hopes to stuff the run for the Jets this season and seasons to come. (Jets Photo)
Rookie LB Anthony Schlegel hopes to stuff the run for the Jets this season and seasons to come. (Jets Photo)
At home in Texas, Anthony Schlegel’s hobbies include hunting wild boars. Starting in September the Jets’ rookie middle linebacker, who figures to be a run stopping specialist, will be looking to hunt down opposing ball-carriers.

Thus far Schlegel has stood out more in the locker room than on the practice field as the 76th overall pick continues his adjustment to the NFL. As head coach Eric Mangini has stressed, Schlegel continues to search for his role on the Jets’ squad. This is nothing new to the youngster who often took a backseat to first round picks A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter in his two years in the Ohio State University linebacker core, possibly the best in collegiate history.

“You don’t feel overlooked,” Schlegel said. “Everyone has a job to do, and when everyone does what they are supposed to, that’s when you succeed. We played well and that’s why it worked so well.”

It appears that Schlegel’s job in Green and White will be to stop the run. Entering April’s draft, many experts said that although the linebacker excels at stopping the run and reads plays well and reads plays quickly, he struggles in pass coverage. Coaches and veteran players tried to help Schlegel improve that part of his game during the team’s recent mini-camp. With work, some feel Schlegel could become a solid two-down linebacker in the NFL.

Work is nothing new to Schlegel who is cut from the same mold as players like former Detroit Lion Chris Spielman, a thick, muscular, lunch-pail player who loves the game and plays with intensity. The kid from Texas has been able to use his blue-collar work ethic to ease his transition to New York life.

“I don’t have a lifestyle, man,” the rookie said. “I go to sleep early, I wake up early, play football all day, just working to get better.”

Also easing the transition for the is the presence of two fellow Buckeyes at Jets’ camp. Second-year kick Mike Nugent and rookie center Nick Mangold, the 29th overall pick in this year’s draft, both played with Schlegel at Ohio State.

“It’s nice to have Nick and Nuge here,” Schlegel said. “We have a great group of guys here and they’ve really made it fun to be here so far.”

The veterans in the Jets’ linebacker core have been able to offer some advice to the new addition. Though vets and coaches like Bryan Cox can often be heard teasing the youngster, they have also been a great help to him thus far.

“The older guys have been great, I’m learning a lot from them,” Schlegel said. “They’ve taught me to pick up little things in the offense that can tip you off to what play they can run from certain formations and what’s coming up on the next play so you can be prepared.”

Coach Mangini said he felt it was these things that were most important in the team’s most recent camp.

“It is so important for the veterans to help the younger guys out,” Mangini said. “Whether it’s helping them make reads or whatever. Making individuals better football players is how we are going to get better as a team.”

Still, Mangini broke mini-camp saying that the team is “green and growing” and that there is still a lot of work to be done, especially by the younger guys. Players like Schlegel will spend the next month preparing for the beginning of training camp at the end of July.

“Right now, the rookies are still swimming,” Mangini said. “There is still a long way to go and a lot of work to be done before the start of the season.”

The coach has still refused to state where individual players stand and continues to say everyone must figure out how they can help the team.

Don’t be surprised if Anthony Schlegel works his way on to the field a good deal this season as a two down run stuffer for the Jets.