was a MaxPreps second-team All-American football player
, a remarkable multidimensional 6-foot-1, 215-pound quarterback for Petal (Miss.)
who threw for 2,058 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior and rushed for 1,731 yards and 24 more scores.
"He can make every throw and has a great knowledge of the game," CBS and MaxPreps recruiting expert Tom Lemming said. "He's a leader on and off the field and combines strength, explosive moves, great vision and tremendous instincts."
was also a first-team MaxPreps All-American in baseball, a fleet, explosive outfielder who hit .483 this season with four homers, 31 RBIs and 39 runs scored. He added an .805 slugging percentage and stole 14 bases.
"He can do anything. He can play anything," Petal baseball coach Larry Watkins said. "He's explosive running and has explosive power. And his instincts are great. He knows how to play the game. He's got great fundamentals, a great background. It's not just taking a great athlete and sticking him out on the baseball field; he knows how to play."
He was rated the 24th top overall football recruit
in the country by Lemming and landed a full ride to Southern Mississippi
Alford was also ranked the 44th best overall baseball prospect
in the land by MaxPreps Baseball Editor Kevin Askeland and the Toronto Blue Jays took him in the third round of the June amateur baseball draft.
He was the first player in Mississippi history to be named Mr. Football and Mr. Baseball in the same season.
Add it all up and Alford equals the MaxPreps Boys Athlete of the Year for the 2011-12 season.
His football coach Steve Buckley told the Clarion Ledger
that Alford isn't all athletic ability and he doesn't seek entitlement.
"Obviously Anthony has a lot of God-given athletic ability, but he's such a dedicated worker," Buckley told the newspaper. "He works in the weight room, he works in the film room and he works on the practice field. That's what makes him special."
His plan was to play both sports at Southern Miss, but that has changed after signing with the Blue Jays for a reported $424,000.
He'll play all summer for the organization, but report to Southern Mississippi in time to likely compete for a starting job. He appears to be the perfect quarterback to run the Golden Eagles' spread attack, especially since Buckley followed him and will be an assistant coach for Southern Miss.
Alford led Petal to the Class 6A state title game, where it lost 35-34 to Olive Branch. Alford did everything imaginable in the title game.
He completed all eight of his passing attempts for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 36 times for 207 yards and three more scores. His 5-yard touchdown run with 2:47 left gave Petal a 34-27 lead with 2:47 remaining. But a 1-yard touchdown run and ensuing 2-point conversion run by Todd Mays with 1:12 left gave Olive Branch the lead back.
Alford led his team back down the field and a 43-yard field goal on the game's final play by Austin Franklin gave Petal the apparent win. But a Olive Branch player jumped offside on the play and the dead ball foul moved the ball up.
Franklin's 38-yarder missed and Olive Branch emerged the champion, the only hiccup in an otherwise nearly perfect year for Alford.
"I gave it my all," Alford told pinebeltsports.com
after the game. "I wouldn't trade anything for this group of guys. I'd fight any time for them, and I know they left it out on the field."
Said Buckley: "He was just being Anthony. He does the same thing he always does. He did a great job trying to take over the game and he made plays. He gave us a chance to win the game."
He does that in every game, said Lemming, who believes Alford has a legitimate shot at being a college All-American.
"He shows superior arm strength, running skills and smarts," Lemming said. "A terrifically instinctive leader, he knows how to win."
And he's ultra competitive, Buckley said.
"What makes him a great football and baseball player is that he demands perfection from himself," Buckley said.
Because he accepted the Blue Jays' offer, he can't play baseball at Southern Mississippi. Alford is currently playing outfield for the Lansing Lugnuts of the Class A Midwest League.
No matter where he ends up, Alford will always try to make a difference off the field. Following the lead of his civic-minded favorite athletes, Derek Jeter and Kurt Warner, Alford and Ge'Monee Brown conducted a February youth football clinic. Afterward, they donated more than $300 to 3-year-old McKenna Hawkins, the daughter of Petal defensive coordinator Jody Hawkins, who is batting acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
"I try to set a good example for younger kids in the community," Alford said. "I don't only want to be remembered by my athletic ability and (for) playing football and baseball. I want to be remembered for my character."Correspondent Brian Falzarano contributed to this report. E-mail Mitch Stephens at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MitchMashMax. Watch more videos of Petal football