DAVIE — Cordrea Tankersley was scrolling Facebook on Tuesday evening, when something surprising popped up on his feed.
“It said that the Dolphins had traded for Stephone (Anthony),” Tankersley, a Miami rookie, recalled Wednesday. “I said, “What?” I clicked on it and then I knew he was coming. I was so excited to see him back in my locker room all over again. It seems like he’s ecstatic to be here. I’m glad he’s here.”
Anthony, acquired from the New Orleans Saints, is the fourth member of the Dolphins defense that played at Clemson.
Defensive end Andre Branch and cornerback Byron Maxwell were also standouts for the Tigers.
“All three of them texted me,” Anthony said. “‘Welcome, family. Welcome home.’ It’s all love.”
Maxwell left Clemson in 2011, Branch in 2012, Anthony in 2015 and Tankersley in 2017.
All four have played for Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who coined the phrase, “Bring your own guts!” and led the Tigers to the 2016 national championship game and victory over Alabama at the 2017 national championship.
“I think you’re going to have a guy (Anthony) that’s smart, a guy that’s going to understand the grind, he’s going to bring it every day,” Maxwell said. “That’s the most important thing. And you only get better if you bring it every day. And more importantly he’s going to be able to accept criticism and accept challenges and try to meet it and rise to it. Dabo (Swinney) does a real good job of that.”
Tankersley described Anthony, a former first-round draft choice, as a beast.
“He definitely plays violent,” Tankersley said. “Off the field, humble, respectful, on the field he’s just a dog. He just wants to be perfect every play. Even when he makes mistakes, it’s at 100 percent full-speed. He’s every coachable. He’s very willing to learn. Excitable guy. Coachable guy. We are getting a pretty good football player.”
Anthony will wear number 44 with the Dolphins.
His NFL number 50, is taken by Branch, and his college number 42, is worn by veteran Alterraun Verner.
“(Branch) was a senior when I was a freshman and now I’m not getting it from him,” Anthony said. “Fourty four will have to do. It was not by choice, but it was given. I’ll take it. I’ll make it special.”
Clemson and Alabama have played in the last two national championship games and it has been a source of pride for running back Kenyan Drake how many Crimson Tide players have been in the NFL and in Miami.
“We’ve got me, (Anthony) Steen and Mo (Smith),” Drake said Wednesday.
“No, no, Mo is Georgia,” Tankersley said of Smith, who transferred from Alabama to Georgia.
So, what are the traits of a Clemson defensive player?
“Relentless. Athletic. And a leader,” said Branch, who like Tankersley and Anthony trained under Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Added Tankersley: “I feel like these (Dolphins) coaches want guys who bring great effort. That’s what Clemson players believe in, hard work, effort, 110 percent. So I feel like they’re getting an incredible player and a great leader from Stephone. I’m glad he’s here. I feel like this defense can help him. It’s more like Clemson. Aggressive. We play a lot of aggressiveness and he’s an aggressive football player.”
Branch believes Anthony can help the Dolphins.
“He is very, very willing to learn,” Branch said. “Student of the game. As athletic as they come. He always wants to learn more. So he’s going to fit right in here. You know I talked to him and I think he’ll be great.”
Is Branch surprised the Dolphins now have four former Clemson defensive standouts on the roster?
“No,” Branch said. “We’re everywhere.”