Hitchens may have been a three-sport athlete in high school, but it was on the football field where he made a name for himself.
Anthony Hitchens was a two-way player at Clearview High School and finished his high school career as the all-time leading rusher with 3,864 yards, and holds the single-game record for most rushing yards with 354. He also caught 16 passes for 213 yards and four touchdowns. As a kick returner in high school, he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, Anthony Hitchens recorded 154 career tackles, 12 quarterback sacks, five interceptions, six forced fumbles, six recovered fumbles, and scored four defensive touchdowns.
Anthony Hitchens helped lead his team to a 10-1 record and a state championship during his junior year.
Anthony Hitchens’ high school honors include:
- First-team All-State
- Lorain County Golden Helmet Award
- Lorain Morning Journal’s Player of the Year
Coming out of high school Anthony Hitchens was viewed as a two-star recruit by Rivals.com. He had offers from Kansas University, Indiana University, University of Akron, and Eastern Michigan, before deciding to continue his playing career at the University of Iowa.
Anthony Hitchens originally started his collegiate career at the University of Iowa as a running back before being moved to linebacker full-time.
Hitchens’ freshman season in 2010 was relatively unproductive. He mainly played on special teams, but saw action in 10 games. He finished his freshman year with one solo tackle and eight assists.
In 2011, he was the second string weak side linebacker and played in eight games, missing five others due to injury. Anthony Hitchens recorded 14 solo tackles, 11 assists, and recovered one fumble.
In 2012, Anthony Hitchens took over full-time duties, playing in all but one game that season. He had an extremely productive season: he led the Big Ten in tackles (124) and ranked fifth in the nation with 11.2 tackles per game. Hitchens also collected 5.5 tackles for a loss and had one quarterback sack.
In his senior season, Anthony Hitchens started every game at weak side linebacker and once again led the team with 112 tackles. He also had two quarterback sacks, two forced fumbles, two pass breakups, one recovered fumble, one interception, and four QB pressures.
Anthony Hitchens’ 2013 honors include:
- Roy J. Carver Most Valuable Player
- Hayden Fry ‘Extra Heartbeat’ Award
- Second-team All-Big Ten by league coaches
- Honorable mention All-Big Ten by league media
- Second team All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele
- Third team All-Big Ten by College Sports Madness
2010 NFL Draft
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Anthony Hitchens in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2014 NFL draft. The selection was viewed by the media as being a reach for the Cowboys, but they saw a linebacker that would provide valuable depth behind Sean Lee.
Anthony Hitchens didn’t really light up the world at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. He ran a 4.74 second 40-yard dash and only managed 23 reps on bench press. His vertical jump was 31.5 inches and his broad jump was 116 inches.
Not eye-popping numbers for a linebacker, but the Dallas Cowboys saw something in him that they really liked, thus using a fourth round draft pick to acquire his services.
After the loss of Sean Lee to injury in 2014, the Cowboys traded for Rolando McClain to start at MLB. This allowed Hitchens to be brought along somewhat slowly as a rookie, but that doesn’t mean the Cowboys coaching staff didn’t value him as a member of the linebacker group. In fact, they had Hitchens learn all three linebacker positions and it came in handy down the stretch.
Hitchens’ role on the team became more important when fellow linebacker Justin Durant was lost for the year in Week 8. Hitchens would go on to start a total of 11 games as a rookie and finished the season with 75 tackles, four passes defensed, and one interception.
After suffering a high ankle sprain in the last game of the regular season, Anthony Hitchens still managed to play in the wildcard playoff game against the Detroit Lions, where he was involved in a controversial non-interference call against tight end Brandon Pettigrew.
In 2015, Hitchens’ second year in the NFL, his opportunities were reduced due to Sean Lee’s return at weak side linebacker and Rolando McClain at middle linebacker. However, Hitchens would step in and start the first four games at MLB while McClain served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policies.
Anthony Hitchens started nine games and recorded 67 tackles, one pass defended, and one forced fumble.
As things stand right now, it looks as if Anthony Hitchens will have a much larger role on defense in 2016 while Rolando McClain is serving a 10 game suspension for once again violating the league’s substance abuse policies.
Anthony Hitchens is entering the third year of his rookie contract with the Dallas Cowboys. The total value of Hitchens’ contract is $2,654,864, with $434,864 of that fully guaranteed, making him the 41st highest paid linebacker of 89 4-3 OLBs in the league. He will make an average of $663,713 per season over the four years of his contract.
In 2016, Anthony Hitchens will have a base salary of $600,000 and his cap hit will be $708,716. In the final year of his contract in 2017 his base salary will be $690,000 and his hit against the cap will be $798,716. The Dallas Cowboys will then have to decide if they want to offer him a second contract or not.
Profile written by Staff Writer Brian Martin