Through three weeks of college football, the biggest breakout star on the Purdue football team has come on the receiving corps. And it is a surname fans of Purdue football and men’s basketball should recognize. It is redshirt freshman receiver, Jackson Anthrop.
Anthrop was a senior at Lafayette Central Catholic high school when his brother, Danny Anthrop, finished his career at Purdue. He, like Jackson, was a wide receiver and collected 616 receiving yards and four touchdowns before being sidelined with a knee injury in the ninth game of the season. At the same time, Jackson Anthrop was setting school records in touchdowns and leading Central Catholic to a Class A state championship. Danny can boast three state championships, but who is counting.
The oldest Anthrop brother to play at Purdue was Dru Anthrop (Jade, the oldest Anthrop, played basketball and baseball at St. Joseph College). Dru was a four-year member of the Purdue men’s basketball team from 2009-2013. The team went to three NCAA tournaments and Dru averaged around 0.7 points per game in 8 minutes per game in his Purdue career. Because of the Anthrop ties to Purdue, former head coach Darrell Hazell recruited Jackson and he eventually committed and enrolled for the 2016 football season.
Jackson Anthrop never played a snap under Coach Hazell, as he was redshirted his freshman season. Purdue had a large surplus of receivers at the time, most of which graduated last season. Now under Coach Jeff Brohm, Anthrop has flourished into one of Purdue’s top playmakers. He impressed the coaching staff in the spring and summer with his hard work, earning a spot in the starting grid for the opening game against Louisville. And what a debut it was for Anthrop.
Anthrop caught the first touchdown in the Jeff Brohm era at Purdue, giving Purdue an early lead versus the Cardinals. Later, at the start of the fourth quarter, Anthrop caught another touchdown pass through two defenders to give Purdue the lead back. Both touchdowns thrown by quarterback Elijah Sindelar. Anthrop finished as Purdue’s top receiver in the game with seven catches, for 82 yards and the two touchdowns. There was no doubt who the go-to guy on offense was going forward.
Anthrop continued to start at receiver the next two games against Ohio and Missouri. On the season, he leads the team in receptions with 17, touchdown catches with four and is second in receiving yards with 157. When Purdue quarterbacks need a completion, Anthrop is often the target. Anthrop is already matching the numbers his brother Danny put up in his senior year as a freshman. The future is bright for the hometown kid from West Lafayette.
With quarterback David Blough gearing up for his third Big Ten season, he knows the importance of having those go-to players. The defense gets stronger than those faced in non-conference season, and having experience with those matchups is huge. But even when many of Purdue’s receivers do not have experience in conference play, a versatile player like Anthrop can make a huge difference. Going head to head with a talented defense for the Michigan football team is the next test in Anthrop’s young career. But that career is already off to an impressive start.