Annese making a name for himself in Chippewas secondary
Hot off one of the best single-game performances of his college football career, sophomore defensive back Tony Annese the rest of the Chippewas defense are preparing diligently for Saturday’s matchup with Big Ten foe Purdue.
With four interceptions in four career starts, Annese made a name for himself with his last outing when he was pegged as the MAC Defensive Player of the Week. With keen sense of reading the quarterback’s next move, he has earned a team nickname that is one part clinical and one part mythological: Ballhawk.
Four picks in four games. That’s pretty efficient. How do you explain numbers such as those?
I’ve played this game my whole life. That’s one thing I pride myself on. I want to be responsible for what happens with my team. I really enjoy being a playmaker.
What’s with the nickname? What does it mean to be a ballhawk?
Just swarming the ball. As a defensive back, you always want to be around the ball. I love giving the offense havoc.
There a lot of really big names on this defense. How do you stand out in a sea of superstars that fill the unit?
I don’t even see it that way. There are 11 guys on our defense and we all play as a whole. We all have different jobs to do. I’m just trying to do mine.
What’s your favorite thing about being a college football player?
I’m really living my dream right now. I get to do the thing I love every day. It’s in my family. My dad played in the NFL. I’ve been around it my whole life and it has been a dream to play at this level.
You have become known for intercepting opposing quarterbacks, but what’s it like getting that big hit in the secondary?
The picks are one thing. Those will come. But those big hits dude … those are things all of us guys live for. I love the hit. I feel like I’m really mean out there. That gives me an edge.
Would you rather have a big hit that forces a fumble or the game winning interception?
I would love to take both. But I love those big hits, man. Hits get your team excited. Now, if you get that ball on the ground, that’s good for the offense. I’ll take the big hit all day.
What is your relationship like with your positional coaches and head coach Dan Enos?
It’s great. All those guys have a lot of experience playing the game. It really shows up in their coaching. I learn a lot from (defensive coordinator Joe) Tumpkin. We always bounce ideas off of each other. It’s really smooth.
What’s it like having to guard someone like Titus Davis in practice?
We have the best receiving corps in the MAC. Every day (in practice) it’s a challenge guarding those guys. It benefits all of us to go up against high quality receivers in practice like that.
How did you hear that you were voted MAC Defensive Player of the Week last week?
One of my friends texted me. I had no idea. It was cool. It’s a great achievement.
Do you think more about personal accolades like that one or the overall goals of the team?
The team comes first. We are trying to win a MAC Championship here. If we lose and I play well, that really doesn’t mean anything.
What’s one thing that you want CMU football fans to know about you?
I’m going to swarm the ball. I’m going to be around the ball whenever I can. That’s all that matters to me.