Hello all, and welcome back to Husky History, a column focusing on one accomplished UConn athlete per week. Each article should detail the athlete’s accolades at Connecticut, as well as their ability to take their games to the professional level.
This week’s Husky History focuses on football legend Anthony Sherman. While the fullback may not have padded the stat sheet, he provided quite the impact for his teams in Storrs and in the NFL.
The oldest of five, Sherman grew up in North Attleboro, Mass., with four sisters. He engaged in plenty of athletics, playing baseball, football and track as a child, particularly excelling in baseball and football. Sherman was ambidextrous, able to throw a baseball with near-equal abilities with both arms. Despite this talent, he thrived as a center fielder, leading off for his high school varsity team.
The budding star was great on the gridiron early on, doing damage as a running back and linebacker for the North Attleboro Rockets before moving up to high school. At that level, Sherman showed his true potential, finishing his four years as the program leader in career with 2,537 rushing yards and 48 touchdowns. He received plenty of acclaim, including the Gatorade Player of the Year Award for the state of Massachusetts in 2006. He rose up the ranks as fast as anyone, but always remained grounded to his goal of being successful.
“I don’t think I ever got to the point where I thought I was pretty good at this,” Sherman said. “I think that I always knew that I had to really work hard and always keep my head to the ground.”
Despite his status as the top high school football player in the state, Sherman was only a three-star prospect and only received two Division I football offers. The young star decided on the University of Connecticut over in-state Boston College, taking his talents to a program still looking for its footing in the Big East.
As a freshman, Sherman carved out a role for himself, finding action in all of the team’s 13 games as either a fullback, in a special teams role or both. While he racked up just 27 scrimmage yards on the season, his impact in the blocking and special teams games certainly helped the team.
The Huskies enjoyed one of the program’s best seasons in 2007, winning a share of the Big East title alongside West Virginia. The team fell in their bowl game to Wake Forest but would remain competitive as Sherman and UConn made the next three bowl games, going 2-1 over that span. The fullback wasn’t as involved in the scrimmage yard production as much as he had been in high school, but former head coach Randy Edsall noticed his impact on the team regardless.
“The memories for me [are] just him doing the dirty work to allow other people to have success,” said Edsall. “That’s the thing I’ll always remember about Anthony — that he is just unselfish and never was looking for the limelight, never was looking for the glory, just loved to play the game…”
Sherman contributed more in his sophomore year, particularly in the receiving game. The locked-in starting fullback was the second-leading receiver for the Huskies, finishing the year with 26 receptions for 270 yards. The Massachusetts native was doing whatever was needed to help out the team, which was part of Edsall’s decision to name him a captain for the next two years.
“Anthony wanted to be good, he wasn’t afraid of hard work,” said Edsall. “It was important to him. He’s one of those guys that has a focus and had goals in mind, and he was going to make sure he’d attain those goals.”
Over the next two years at Storrs, Sherman would continue his strong collegiate career, providing a boost on special teams and blocking for his teammates on offense, including Big East Offensive Player of the Year, Jordan Todman. On Senior Day against Cincinnati, Sherman caught a 16-yard pass, earning him his first and only college touchdown.
Despite fullback being a near-forgotten position in football, Sherman was drafted in the fifth round by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft. After two productive seasons, the UConn alumnus was shipped over to the Kansas City Chiefs, the team he would become most synonymous with. Sherman wouldn’t reach NFL free agency after his rookie contract, as the Chiefs jumped at the chance to extend him.
While Sherman was playing with star running back Jamaal Charles in 2014, he was able to stand out, earning Second-Team All-Pro honors for the fullback position, just the second-to-last year the NFL gave out that award to fullbacks specifically.
“He’s the leader in that running back room,” said Doug Peterson, the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs in 2014. “He’s a smart guy and he understands his role. We don’t use a ton of fullbacks in this system. He has limited reps and limited opportunities. But you know what? He never complains. He comes to work every day ready to work.”
Sherman is known to fans as “Sausage” or “The Sausage” after head coach Andy Reid described him as “a sausage with hands” after a 36-yard touchdown in the 2018 season opener. The goofy nickname given encapsulates his positive energy, as he was also known to wear unique game-day outfits and keep things light in the locker room. Sherman always showed up to practices and games with a smile, rubbing off that energy on his teammates.
“Camp is difficult,” acknowledged Sherman. “You have long practices, long nights and you rise early. And just to have that positive attitude, it rubs off on people. I love being here so I just try to let everyone else feel and know that… You get so much more done when you enjoy it.”
His impact mentally and emotionally on the Chiefs was certainly valued. Kansas City saw many successes with Sherman, culminating in their Super Bowl LIV victory in early 2020. After the following season, Sherman decided that his time playing football was over, as he announced his retirement in March of 2021.
“Kansas City, thanks for all the memories,” said Sherman in his retirement video, posted online. “It’s been a great run: Eight years, Super Bowls. But it’s on to the next chapter.”
Today, Sherman enjoys time with his wife, Jessica, and their three children. The pair are involved in many humanitarian efforts, including The Big Search, in combating child trafficking.