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Baldwin Wallace’s Anthony Kendall gets chance, draws interest from NFL

Anthony Kendall shared a neighborhood with an NFL team for five years. He could run from the stadium where he starred on Saturdays to the Browns’ practice field in a couple of minutes.

He remained the longest of long shots.

After spending five years at Division III Baldwin Wallace University, Kendall wasn’t invited to any college all-star games or the NFL’s scouting combine. His coach had to phone a friend to get him into a college pro day.

“It was a bit stressful because I didn’t think I was gonna be able to get into any because I needed an agent and nobody really wanted to be my agent at the time,” Kendall told The Chronicle Telegram by phone.


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The NFL has a way of finding talent.

It finally found Kendall.

The 5-foot-10½, 180-pound cornerback is drawing interest from teams as the draft approaches next weekend. He’ll likely go undrafted but could sign after the draft or at least get a rookie camp tryout. He opened eyes at the pro days with outstanding athleticism, running a 4.44-second 40-yard dash, vertical jumping 39.5 inches, broad jumping 11-1 and bench pressing 225 pounds 21 times.

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“The numbers speak for themselves and I’m capable of being able to perform and play at a high level given the numbers,” Kendall said. “That’s what the college scouts have been telling me. So getting me in a program, developing me, getting me onto a practice squad and two years from now, being able to be developed into a player that they can use on the field as a starter.”

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First, Kendall had to find BW. Maybe it was the other way around.

He’s from Port Richey, Florida, near Tampa, was a late bloomer — 5-6 until his senior year of high school — and didn’t get any Division I offers. Then-BW assistant coach Steve Opgenorth recruited Kendall, who made a visit north.

“It was a good campus, academically it was a good school as well as the football program, and so I went and committed,” said Kendall, who’s back home.

He received a bachelor’s degree in business of healthcare.

“To be honest with you, when he came up here, I was like, there ain’t no way we’re gonna get this guy,” BW coach Jim Hilvert said. “Fortunately for us, he fell through the cracks and made an impact his freshman year. You could tell he was very gifted his freshman year.”

Kendall’s teammates recognized the talent and suggested he transfer to a bigger program. He had good academic scholarships, liked the Yellow Jackets’ chances of making the playoffs and wanted to win a championship.

“I have no regrets,” said Kendall, who was a second-team All-American and the Ohio Athletic Conference Defensive Back of the Year after totaling 56 tackles, three interceptions, a league-best 12 pass breakups, a sack and a forced fumble in 10 games as a senior.

The loyalty didn’t keep him from getting noticed. He always thought about the NFL and was confident in himself, but the chance seems more real after his performances at the pro days.

After BW lost its season finale to No. 2 Mount Union on a deflected Hail Mary, Hilvert called a good friend who’s on the University of Toledo staff and got Kendall on the list for the Rockets’ pro day, which was attended by 31 of the 32 NFL teams. Kendall then participated at the Youngstown State and Ashland pro days and in a local workout hosted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“They can see him off the hoof and say, oh, wow,” Hilvert said. “And then watch the film with that. They’re like, OK, there’s something to this kid.”

Despite the high-pressure nature of the situation, Kendall said he wasn’t concerned.

“It was just a matter of getting in. That was my biggest worry,” he said. “I knew I was gonna be able to perform. Anybody who talked to me, I would tell them, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go out there and put up those numbers.’

“Man, it’s exciting. It’s a dream come true. It’s what I wanted as far as just an opportunity to get in front of some people and to show them who I am. So it was just a blessing.”

Kendall played nickelback as a freshman and also spent time at safety and corner. He said NFL teams project him as a nickelback, but Hilvert believes he has the versatility to play inside and out.

“He can do it all,” Hilvert said. “He can run, he can hit, can change direction, has great hips, very fluid.

“He’s very competitive. He likes to play against a team’s best receiver. He’s a smart football player. He’s not just a good athlete, he’s a good football player. He’s a special football player.”

Hilvert has talked to a lot of NFL teams about Kendall, who said of all the ones that have shown interest, the Browns have shown the most. He talked to them at the Toledo pro day and had a private meeting with a scout after the Ashland pro day in which he went through X’s and O’s on the board.

“They’ve been showing me the most love,” Kendall said.

Now that he’s been found by the NFL, he doesn’t plan on disappearing.

“I’m hoping that any team just gives me a shot, whether it’s drafted, undrafted free agent, high priority,” he said. “I think that’s where I belong.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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