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Homegrown: Anthony Homa

By Connor Kocis

Grand Island native, Anthony Homa has been on a journey to stardom since birth. He was six years old when he first stepped on the football field, and his heart has never left. Ever since that day, he had every kid's dream of playing in the NFL, but the difference is he made tremendous sacrifices to get there. Being an undersized wide receiver in pop warner and junior varsity he struggled to find a consistent starting role until his sophomore year, but people still doubted him. That’s when it clicked in his head that he had all the weapons to succeed, he just needed some help. That summer he contacted UB star receiver, Alex Neutz, and former Buff State wide receiver, Alejandro Overton and got to work, improving his route tree, reaction timing, and overall knowledge of the wide receiver position. Additionally, he took a training trip down to Florida's, Gold Feet Global to improve his speed, agility, and timing. He took an enormous leap his sophomore season raking in 30 catches for 400 yards on the JV squad, an impressive number nonetheless, but Anthony wasn’t content; he was hungry for the varsity spot.

Growing up in Buffalo Anthony loved the Bills and always looked up to superstar WR, Stevie Johnson. He would pretend to be him playing catch in the backyard so when it came time to find a mentor to take him to the next level, he knew there was only one person for the job. He DM’d Stevie every day on Instagram asking to train him, until eventually the Bills superstar responded and took Anthony under his wing. The two trained all day every day that sophomore summer, waking up at 5 am, staying out until the lights were turned off on them, the two had a bond like no other. His Junior year, Anthony finally made varsity and he wasn’t going to look back, with the help from all his mentors and the countless hours spent training, he was primed for a breakout year. That season he ranked 66th in receiving yards in New York and didn’t know it yet, but had the biggest decision of his life ahead of him.

With hometown hero Stevie Johnson accepting the head coaching job at his Alma Mater, Angelo Rodriguez High School in Fairfield, CA that would mean Anthony’s newfound training partner was going to be leaving him. Knowing Anthony had a bright future, Stevie asked if he would want to come and live with him in California and play for the Mustangs. Anthony jumped at the opportunity to continue learning from Stevie as well as increase his level of competition, playing against some of the best players in the country. He recalls the first week he was in California, Stevie took him to DB Select, an elite football training group consisting of NFL prospects, JUCO superstars, and 5-star defensive backs. Without warning Stevie threw him to the wolves and had him lining up against these highly touted athletes; but of course, Anthony didn’t skip a beat and went 6/8 and proved that it's not about the size of the dog in the fight, it's about the size of the fight in the dog. From that day forward he knew that he needed to train harder than he ever did before because over on the West Coast the DB’s are far more physical than Grand Island and if you don’t want to get thrown off the line you are going to need to battle back. Additionally, living with Stevie taught him how to live a healthier lifestyle- eating better foods, going to the weight room every day, and working on his mental game. While the team struggled to find a winning recipe, Anthony locked in and etched his name into the record books taking home: 1st team all-league, 1st team all section, 1st in the state in catches, 12th in the state in yards, top 50 in touchdowns, and broke 3 school records. As Anthony and Stevie would say that's the definition of HBHF- handle business, have fun.

With his name finally on the map, Anthony’s offers finally came flooding in, but sticking to his 716 roots he committed to Bethel University in McKenzie, TN coached by none other than Michael Jasper, Bills defensive linemen drafted in 2011. As he prepares for this coming season he sets his goals high and wants to be starting at wide receiver by week 1. Additionally, Anthony hopes to bring his vast knowledge of the game as well as different techniques he learned along the way to the team to improve everyone from the last person on the depth chart to the star wideout. He said he will miss the winters and the snowfall in Buffalo as well as watching the Bills play on Sunday. One thing Anthony can't live without is a large mushroom pizza from Brick Oven Pizza on Grand Island. We wish Anthony the best of luck in his coming season with Bethel and hope to see him catching passes on Sunday!!

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