Updated Mon, Sep 30, 2013 4:44 pm
Lined up at the fringe of Ohio’s offensive line there stands Anthony Talbert, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound hulk at tight end. The redshirt senior has been a Bobcat for mere months yet finds himself in an unlikely position of leadership. Now at his second school, two academic majors but only one degree later, Talbert is left with one year left to play and an entirely new outlook on his future after football.
So exactly who is Anthony Talbert?
“He’s a very energetic, outgoing young man,” Ohio tight ends coach Brian Haines said. “He likes to laugh and have a good time, but he’s able to draw that line when it’s time to go to work.”
After graduating in 2013 from North Carolina State University with a degree in public relations, Talbert transferred to Ohio this summer with a year left of athletic eligibility.
Before becoming a member of the Wolfpack, however, Talbert played high school ball at Winton Woods in his hometown of Cincinnati. It was there that Talbert showcased his talents to college recruiters. In 2008 he was an All-Tri-State nominee. Later he was named to Prep Star's All-Midwest Region class of 2009. He was rated a two-star recruit by Scout.com.
Ultimately, Talbert committed to play college ball at NC State. He redshirted his first year on campus. Through the next two seasons, most of the tight end’s playing time came from special teams contributions. In his last year as a member of the Wolfpack, Talbert caught four passes for 48 yards in 13 games played.
With degree in hand, the Ohio-native capitalized on the opportunity to return to his home state.
The Bobcats recruited Talbert heavily out of high school, and the tight end said he was close to committing to Ohio.
“[Ohio] gave me another opportunity to come and play here, and I jumped on it fast,” Talbert said.
Going into the summer, Talbert had a lot to learn about his new surroundings. The same held true for Ohio’s coaching staff. Both parties were not completely unfamiliar with each other, however. Haines was active in recruiting Talbert when he was still at Winton Woods.
For Haines, Talbert’s high character and drive were two qualities that piqued his interest.
Upon his arrival at Ohio University, Haines’ new tight end had to become accustomed to a new offensive scheme.
“The beginning of camp was a little frustrating because I wasn’t getting it as fast as I wanted to,” Talbert said. “Now that we are four weeks into the season I feel really comfortable, and I think I can play in any situation.”
“I think it’s tough on an individual to come in with one year left and be able to step in and play like he did right away,” Haines said. “He did an excellent job of learning our playbook — and at tight end, it’s really two positions, and he does both very well.”
Talbert likes to think of himself as a dual-threat tight end.
“I can block, but I can run routes as well as catch the ball,” he said. The tight end says he can still improve in both aspects but he also believes he has gotten better as the season progresses.
So far he has amassed four receptions and accumulated 62 receiving yards to lead all Ohio tight ends.
Talbert cites the first two games of the season as games where he thought he caught the ball well. In the season opener against Louisville he hauled in a 36-yard reception. Against North Texas he caught two passes for 25 yards. He noted Ohio’s matchup against Marshall as a game in which he blocked well.
“I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of the ball, having him block me,” Haines said. “He’s very intense, high energy and he leaves it out on the field every day.”
There are more sides to Anthony Talbert, however, than what is seen on the field.
Talbert is a brilliant student-athlete. When he started his college career, he took on the daunting task of completing a degree in mechanical engineering.
When asked how he juggled mechanical engineering and football, he simply responded, “I didn’t.
“I noticed that I wasn’t a magician the way I thought I was. I couldn’t juggle them. So after my first year I let that dream go, or else I would have flunked out of school.”
Talbert picked up public relations as his new major, and finally earned his degree in the field.
“People say athletes go into easy majors, [and] it was easy, but if I wasn’t an athlete, that was still a major I wanted to pursue,” he said.
For Talbert there is plenty to like about the field.
“[With public relations] you’re working with people on a consistent basis,” he said. “You’re representing people and highlighting attributes about people. I think I’m good with that. I think I speak well. I work well with people.”
With his degree, Talbert says he wants to eventually start a career in coaching. The redshirt senior says he has worked with a number of excellent coaches over the years of his football career, including the staff at Ohio.
“I’ve taken [a lot] away from my past coaches and my current coaches, and I think I can mold that into something great and present that to a young man in the future,” Talbert said.
He said believes his experiences will help make him a good coach.
“I’ve been in the fire,” he said. “I’m battle-tested, so I have done the things that I will ask my players to do.
“I’ve worked with a lot of good coaches from NC State, from high school, to Ohio University,” he reiterated. “I can combine what I’ve learned from all those people and make it one good product.”
Talbert has high praise for Ohio’s staff.
“The coaches demand a lot out of you,” he said. “Coach [Frank] Solich is a player’s coach, and the staff seems really open, and they embraced me.”
Talbert speaks exceptionally well about his positions coach and special teams coordinator, Brian Haines.
“In the tight end room, it’s a family,” Talbert said. “It’s not a dictatorship. [Haines] doesn’t just take control, and tell us what we’re going to do. He does a good job of asking our opinion about certain plays. Of course we have to do it the way the coach wants to do it, but if we think something can work better or something is just not feeling right, then he takes the time to ask us about it and see how we feel so we can figure out the best way to get something done.”
Between the coaching and the Bobcats’ team chemistry, Talbert says he feels like part of a family and that he feels at home in Athens. Those sentiments, along with the talent on Ohio’s roster were a big draw for the NC State grad.
“Ohio is a great team, with a lot of good guys – personnel wise and athletic-ability-wise,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of the great things that we have going on here.”
Talbert notes his drive to get better as the season progresses. That should not be an issue for the tight end based on how his coach describes him.
“He works his butt off,” Haines said. “He’s a very good listener, and he’s a good leader.”
So just who is Anthony Talbert?
“Anthony Talbert is a nice young man,” Talbert said. “He respects his elders – I love my momma to death. I love my pops too, and my sister. He’s a guy who likes to work hard, a guy who’s not afraid to work hard and when things don’t go his way, he won’t shut down, he’ll work harder. A compassionate guy. Loving, but firm.”
After practice Talbert’s jovial spirit contrasts a mass of worked and tired men. He kids with coaches and jokes around with reporters. His personality is infectious and his people skills evident.
He is someone people want to follow.