2020-2021 Devy Prospect Scouting: RB Anthony McFarland, Maryland
-- 2nd-year freshman in 2018
-- 5’8”/195 (estimates)
I don’t normally look at two years away prospects for Devy purposes. It’s hard enough getting through all the current NFL Draft prospects at hand, and then sneaking a look at the top prospects for next year, so why a look at a 2021 (projected) Devy…and why this one?
I scouted 2019 NFL Draft prospect Ty Johnson (drafted by the Lions) quite a bit this year. I was fan back to my intro to him at the East-West Shrine bowl/all-star game. What I could not understand is why the Terrapins didn’t lean on Johnson more for touches…because he is such a talent. The answer was, in part – Anthony McFarland. The more I looked at Maryland tape, the more I saw this ‘annoying’ smaller RB (McFarland) taking touches and Johnson relegated to a split role and return game.
This annoying RB went from ‘annoying’ to “Damn, that kid is pretty good” the more I watched Maryland tape. Then when I started scouting defensive players, some in games where they played Maryland, and especially for Ohio State defenders – and there was McFarland again getting my attention (21 carries, 298 yards, 2 TDs vs. OSU in 2018…two 70+ yard TD runs). I made a special note to look at him more/deeper. I got even more excited when I noticed that not many 2019 CFB lists or Dynasty sites are paying him much mind yet.
McFarland was a top, 4-star, type RB recruit who had offers from Alabama and Ohio State and from most of the big schools. He chose Maryland because he’s from there (and breaking his fibula and missing his senior HS year didn’t help his national cause either).
He redshirted in 2017 and was a 3rd/4th-string tail back on a loaded Maryland RB depth chart to start 2018 season. He didn’t play much in their season opener vs. Texas in 2018. He then flashed a couple big plays against Bowling Green State the following week, and then posted a 107-yard rushing effort his 3rd game (facing Temple). The next week…just six carries…and 112 yards rushing and 2 TDs.
After back-to-back 100+ yard games on barely any touches, McFarland was thrown into the RBBC with 8-9 carries in games and not really standing out, per se. In their 10th game, at Indiana, McFarland got a push…29 carries for 210 yards rushing. He followed that with a magical 21 carries for 298 yards in an almost/should’ve been upset of Ohio State.
McFarland had 4 rushing TDs last season. The distances…26, 64, 81, and 75. All his rushing TDs coming against bowl teams/opponents.
In 4 games last season, McFarland took 10+ carries in a game. His averages…
19.3 carries, 174.5 yards (9.1 yards per carry), and 0.50 TDs per game.
He went on to be a 2018 CFB freshman all-American.
Why isn’t he more noticed/hyped outside of Maryland? The Terrapins are stacked with talented RBs, so McFarland may or may not get a big push…and he’s not a big-bodied bruiser, so he fits better as the ‘Kamara’ option in a duo. Plus, if you don’t play at Ohio State, Alabama, USC, or Clemson…it’s hard to get any attention the lower your school Q-rating is.
I watched/scouted a few games and did a little research, and here are the notes I took (in the order I took them):
-- He plays like a smaller Alvin Kamara…more of a smaller Darrell Henderson, a guy who can just get up and go and slither through and around things with the greatest of ease.
-- Now, I know why Ty Johnson didn’t see 15+ carries every game for Maryland last year.
-- Broken fibula his high school senior season.
-- He just out runs everybody. His long TDs vs. Ohio State…some of it was a wide-open space/misplayed by the defense but then McFarland just kept extending his lead running away from top NFL prospect defenders. Impressive breakaway speed a la Tevin Coleman or Darrell Henderson.
-- Quite impressed how he takes carries into the interior and then stops on a dime and moves to the outside and outraces everyone to do it. Most fake NFL prospects stop and start to slow to get away from interior traffic congestion…not McFarland. A play is not over/hole is not clogged when he has the ball.
-- Great balance. Takes hits and stays upright and going forward. Not easy to bring down.
-- Only 7 catches last season. Hard to evaluate his hands. Looks fine. I did see something in 2015-16 saying he was the #1 receiving back prospect in the high school ranks, so I’m thinking he’s at least ‘OK’ with his hands.
-- His future NFL role is in a duo as the pass catcher, C.O.P., game breaker.
-- Excellent vision running into and through congestion.
Just a really impressive tail back prospect. Excited to see more as the years unfold. There’s something about McFarland, like Darrell Henderson…they just have that extra sense, that extra gear.