Anthony Firkser fields offers from academic elite, leads Manalapan

Anthony Firkser fields offers from academic elite, leads Manalapan

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Anthony Firkser fields offers from academic elite, leads Manalapan

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On a recent late summer morning, before he said a word, Anthony Firkser showed the type of person he is.

In the middle of preparing to scrimmage Toms River South, Manalapan head coach Ed Gurrieri called his star wide receiver off to the side. A reporter had a few questions. Like his older brother, 2010 Asbury Park Press Offensive Player of the Year Josh Firkser, Anthony is a bit sheepish and not totally comfortable with any spotlight or accolades thrown his way.

With a voice recorder coming out of the reporter’s pocket, Firkser, who qualifies as a physical specimen at 6-foot-2 and a ruggedly-built 220 pounds, needed a slight reminder to take his helmet off before speaking. That’s how introverted he appears to be, but that quality is also what makes him special.

He doesn’t have much to say, but that’s fine because his games typically do his talking anyway. Saying “games” and not “game” is accurate in Firkser’s case, as he has blossomed into the rare high school athlete that has Division I scholarship offers for both basketball and football. Not only is there mutual interest in two sports, the nation’s top academic institutions are showing the love.

Yale has shown interest in both sports, as has Dartmouth, according to his New Jersey Cyclones AAU coach, Mike Cervolino. Harvard would like him for football, as would Colgate. Those four schools calling should give you an indication of his off-the-field makeup.

“He’s a gentleman, a great kid and a great student,” Gurrieri said. “Let’s be honest, if you’re being offered by Yale, you’re a great student. You don’t get recruited by Harvard and Yale by accident. He’s a good kid off the field as he is on the field.”

Manalapan is forever a run-first team behind a solid offensive line, but Firkser adds an element the Braves had been missing, and one that was key to their run to last season’s NJSIAA Central Group IV final. When then-junior quarterback Mike Isabella put the ball in Firkser’s general direction last fall, he came up with it.

Last season’s 49 catches for 714 yards and eight scores by Firkser may have gotten lost in the shuffle of John Sieczkowski’s 2,000-yard season at running back, but as previously stated, Firsker doesn’t mind taking a backseat.

What is clear entering 2012 is that with Isabella, Firkser and fellow-Division I wide receiver recruit Saeed Blacknall, now a junior, the Manalapan quarterback and his targets will not simply be along for the ride as has arguably been the case in years past.

“He’s an extremely humble kid, extremely coachable and very quiet,” Cervolino said. “He’s so consistent in both sports that people take him for granted. As a person, the story will write itself. He’s a straight A student, a gentleman on and off the field. There’s absolutely no doubt he has a successful life, no way he doesn’t have that.”

As for the plan on what sport to play and where to play it after high school, Firkser says he will let this football season play out before choosing, while Cervolino seems convinced it will be basketball. In any case, Firkser has options.

Firkser says he has been offered by Dartmouth, Monmouth, Yale and New Hampshire for basketball and Buffalo, Harvard, Monmouth and Colgate for football. There is also football interest from UConn and Boston College and basketball interest from NJIT, according to Cervolino.

“I’m just having fun with all of it right now,” Firkser said. “I don’t try and put too much pressure on myself in anything I do. I’m just trying to enjoy myself.”

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