WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT ANTHONY HITCHENS? He arrived at Iowa as a Rivals two-star recruit from Lorain, Ohio, with offers from Indiana, Kansas and a handful of MAC schools. He was a running back in high school and was generally viewed as a running back prospect. He started his career there at Iowa, but most of his playing time that irst season on campus came on on special teams.
After moving between offense and defense during bowl prep in 2010, Hitchens would end up at linebacker entering the 2011 season. He was second string at weak side linebacker and played in eight games while missing five others due to injury.
He became the starter in 2012 and ended up starting all but one game that season. He had an extremely productive season: he led the Big Ten in tackles and ranked fifth in the nation with 11.2 tackles per game. He earned honorable mention all-Big Ten honors that year. He again earned honorable mention all-Big Ten honors in 2013 (media) after this most recent season. The coaches named him to the second team all-Big Ten team after the 2013 season.
WHAT DID HE DO THAT WAS SO GREAT? Hitchens was Iowa's leading tackler over the last two seasons. He finished 2013 with 112 tackles and 2012 with 124. For a career, he recorded 270 total tackles, good enough for 20th all-time at Iowa. He earned the Roy J. Carver Defensive MVP Award in 2013.
While he led Iowa and the Big Ten in tackles his junior season ,he still improved his game this past season and was a better all-around player as a result. Over the last two seasons Iowa has transitioned from a defense led by Norm Parker to a defense under the direction of Phil Parker. Iowa also added former Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid to the staff in 2013. Reid and Parker implemented new strategies that better utilized their linebacking corps.
Hitchens was a definite beneficiary of the tweaked Iowa defense: he saw his tackle for a loss statistic take a big jump from 5.5 in 2012 to 13.5 in 2013. Iowa used their linebackers to blitz the passer far more often in 2013 and he was effective doing so. He also became a better tackler and learned to step into the hole and initiate contact.
PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES. He's on the short side at 6'. He's not overly fast, but he does have lower-half explosiveness which shows up in his 10-yard dash. He's perhaps the strongest of Iowa's three senior linebackers, but he may also have peaked physically. Perhaps his biggest knock is that he's considered a "tweener."
|HEIGHT||WEIGHT||ARM||HAND||1ST 40-YARD||2ND 40-YARD||40-YARD OFFICIAL|
|6'0"||240||32 3/8"||9 3/8"||4.72||4.62||4.74|
PRO DAY RESULTS:
WHAT ABOUT THE BAD? In 2012, Hitchens was leading the Big Ten in total tackles despite Iowa struggling to four wins. The Hawkeyes still had a shot at bowl eligibility late in the season, hosting Purdue at home. The offense was faltering, as they had all season. But something else interesting happened: Hitchens was benched. He had eight tackles early in the game but he watched most of the second half from the sidelines. Iowa coaches said they weren't satisfied with his "consistency." Read that as effort.
He said the right things following the game. In fact, he said "It just shows me that I'm not where everyone thinks I'm at. I've still got to improve." He missed the next week's game versus Michigan due to injury and ended the season with 10 tackles against Nebraska.
WAS THIS A GOOD DRAFT PICK? He's shown the ability to bounce back. Some college players may have looked at the end of 2012 and decided to head elsewhere. Hitchens didn't and he improved as he said he would. He's shown that in an aggressive defense he can shine.
He's a solid tackler and will contribute right away to special teams. Once he learns a team's defensive system, he could be a reliable second option at middle or weak side linebacker.
DOES OUR NEW ADDITION HAVE A TWITTER ACCOUNT?
Just Landed In Cali .. ☀️☀️— Anthony Hitchens (@AnthonyHitchens) May 2, 2014