Five years ago, former Miami Hurricanes head coach Randy Shannon had a 2011 recruiting class, with the centerpiece headliner of that class being the highly sought after 5-star recruit, Anthony Chickillo. Now, playing for the “U” is an enigma in of itself, but Chickillo wasn’t your everyday run-of-the-mill signing, as he was a third generation Hurricane. His father, Tony Chickillo and grandfather, Nick Chickillo, both played for the school. It seemed to be a match made in heaven, as coach Shannon had even known him since he was a baby.
Nicknamed “Chick”, when he announced his commitment, he wore a t-shirt that read “Blood Is Thicker Than Water” which should’ve given an inclination as to what it meant for him to put on that jersey.
“Orange and green run through my veins,” said Chickillo, according to the Miami Herald. “As much as I tried to separate it, I couldn’t. Once I figured out where I wanted to go, I didn’t want to waste any coaches time. I told Coach Shannon and the staff last night and they were screaming.”
His dad, Tony, who was the starting nose guard for the ‘Canes in the 80s and played three NFL seasons with the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets, thought the fit was like a glove for his son.
“We’ve been season ticket holders for 20 years,” Tony said, according to the Miami Herald. “He cried when the 58-game winning streak came to an end and when they tore down the Orange Bowl. Being a Cane has just always been in his DNA.”
Even Nick, who was an All-American guard that passed away in 2000, knew the “U” was his grandson’s destination.
Now, Anthony has a new DNA, and it’s the Steelers black and gold. At 6-foot-3 and 267 pounds, he’s the big-bodied type of edge defender the team was looking for. His size is the tweener-type to a T, in the fact that he can adequately play inside, like he did at Miami, as he often moved inside to tackle, as well as on the outside, getting after the quarterback. In a way, he reminds me of former Ravens’ hybrid defender, Pernell McPhee, in the variety of ways he can be unleashed on offenses. As his 15.5 career sacks show, he is capable of getting to the quarterback.
“He’s one of those big guys that shows capability to do it,” outside linebackers coach Joey Porter said, according to Steelers.com. “I know we’re going to get an energy guy that can get to the quarterback. Finding his true position is what we’re going to be doing right now when we get him.”
Starting the final 47 games of his Hurricanes career, he also shows an incredible durability and toughness factor, something that always is endeared by Steelers fans. With OTA’s currently underway, we may not fully see the ways the coaching staff plans to utilize Chickillo until closer to training camp and preseason. There are questions that linger, as to whether he can effectively drop into coverage or the battle he faces against several others vying for the selective few outside linebacker spots like Howard Jones or Shawn Lemon.
Perhaps he gets stashed on the practice squad, but he has the look of, at-worst, a rotational player in the league, regardless of it’s in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.
“I’m just trying to take it all in, take all the coaching I can and just keep learning,” Chickillo said on Steelers.com.