Anthony Cruz is a “Cheat Code” To Roster Building

Anthony Cruz is one of those incredibly rare players that appear on the roster as a QB and more. Typically quarterbacks don’t transition to another position four years into college. The more you learn about Anthony Cruz, the more you realize the word typical doesn’t apply. Cruz is coming off of a season in which he made the move full-time to wide receiver and added linebacker to his resume for the Orlando Predators. 

College Years

When Cruz first entered college, he attended Nassau Community College in New York. He played just one season at the school. He was listed as a quarterback, but had more touches as a runner than he did pass attempts. He had a decent season as a runner, but left something to be desired as a passer. But It looked like he would be given the opportunity to develop at QB over time in college.

NCC Stats: 16 of 29 for 243 yards 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions, 59 carries for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns, he also caught 1 pass for 26 yards and 1 touchdown.

This ended up being just a glimpse of what was to come from Cruz. The following season he would move on to a new school, this decision could have altered his future in football more than he knew at the time.

Globe Institute of Technology

Moving on to Globe Institute of Technology he continued to play football, primarily as a quarterback. He helped lead his team to a 9-1-1 record in 2015. Globe at the time was nearing the end of the run on it’s program. After 31 seasons the Globe Institute of Technology closed it’s doors in 2016. To this day only two players are listed as having gotten to the next level. DE/DT Jihad Ward a former 2nd round pick currently with the New York Giants, and Safety Joe Powell who spent a brief stretch in the NFL, but has also played in the AIF, AFL, AAL, AAF, XFL, and CFL. He is currently a free agent but could be included in the 2023 XFL Draft pool.

Bethune Cookman

Finally after two seasons at the community college level, Cruz got his chance to make the leap to the Division I level. Bethune Cookman saw the talents that Cruz brought to their team. They weren’t exactly sure how they were going to use him as of yet. They quickly determined that his size, and athleticism was best suited to play wide receiver.

After spending most of his first season at the school still playing quarterback, he again ran nearly as much as he threw the ball. He finished the 2016 season with 7 completions on 18 passing attempts for 54 yards 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, adding 17 rushing attempts for 98 yards while playing in just three games.

Heading into the 2017 season Cruz was moved to wide receiver. He would go on to play in 11 games, producing 8 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown, added 2 carries for 3 yards, attempted 1 pass that fell incomplete, and logged 1 tackle. This season truly showcased what he was capable of.

In his final season in school it seemed as if he was poised for a break-out season. Having finally found a position that would get him on the field regularly, hopes were high for Cruz. Unfortunately he would go on to play just 2 games that season. On the road against Tennessee State on September 1st he caught 2 passes for 13 yards. He saw action in one more game but did not log any statistics, and we didn’t see him play the rest of the season. Ultimately after this Cruz would begin his post college career.

Semi-Pro/Indoor Experience

After college, Cruz took a year away from the game before playing semi-professional football to get back on the field, during his semi-pro stint he continue to improve as a wide receiver, as well as work out as a defensive back. Occasionally seeing snaps as a quarterback as well. This time at the semi-pro level helped him get more reps at positions he was very green at, and ultimately panned out in a contract from the Orlando Predators of the NAL.

He would play both ways for the Predators due to the iron man rules of the NAL. He was active for nine games but logged statistics in five of them. Including three straight three reception games in which he totaled 123 yards and 3 touchdowns on a condensed field. Adding 2 receptions for 24 yards in his other two appearances. He would log 4 tackles, 1 interception (beautifully caught one-handed by the way), and 1 pass break up. He also completed 1 pass for 10 yards. Showing exactly what he is capable of.

Jack of All Trades

Anthony Cruz had always been a quarterback so when he was asked to make the move to wide receiver it may not have felt natural at the time. No one will argue that 6’5 218 lb athlete certainly looks like a natural fit. He is like a “cheat code” to roster building with how many roles he is able to fill for any team.

Not only can he serve as a wide receiver, but he can also play on special teams units as well. With his experience playing both ways in the NAL, running down on kick coverage is like second nature now. Add in his value as an emergency quarterback, and possibly even on defense and suddenly you have an extremely valuable player. 

The only question is, how long will Cruz remain in the Indoor game? With leagues like the USFL, and XFL seeing the value in Swiss Army knife players in 2022, it shouldn’t be long. 

Smaller Rosters Promote Creativity

Indoor Football Teams are truly the start of nearly every innovation it seems. Long before the NFL or CFL started toying with smaller, faster linebackers the indoor teams were more apt to use a 205-220 lb linebacker. Meanwhile, the outdoor leagues were still stuck on guys who are 230 lbs plus and can’t run with a wideout or ‘move’ tight end.

Coaches at this level will find a role for every elite athlete that comes their way. This isn’t the NFL where they can pay millions and draw every top-flight rookie athlete. They have to work with what they get. It just so happens Anthony Cruz is one of those elite-level athletes, who just needed more film at a position he had played just 13 games at in college.

Rather than cast aside a player of his caliber, the coaching staff found a way to utilize him. If you’re a fan of spring football, Anthony Cruz…is a name you will want to watch for in the 2023 Football season.

Sources: Bethune Cookman Website, Anthony Cruz, Orlando Predators website

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