It's officially a theme: local talent! Wooo! Presenting No. 28 in this year's class, athlete Anthony Anderson.
No, not the voice of Hoodwinked's Detective Bill Stork:
Anderson, an Austin-East High School product from Knoxville, grew up a Vol fan, primarily due to his Uncle Wendell, a UT football letterman in 1980, and his proximity to the campus. Tennessee offered him in February, 2006, just days after Wendell died. Anderson, who was initially surprised at such an early offer, responded by saying, "I guess they saw something in me. Hopefully they see a good person who handles himself the right way and a good player who can run."
Initially, the Austin-East standout told the media that he wanted to keep his options open, but one week later, he was the first commitment* of Tennessee's 2007 class. "I told you last week that it was a dream of mine to go to Tennessee since I was a kid," Anderson said, "So I just did not want to wait on fulfilling that dream." Like Tyler Maples, who also spent less time as a recruit and more time as a commit to his hometown university, Anderson shunned visits to other schools and their camps. This likely explains his lack of offers from competing universities, but the fact that his high school coach sent Anderson's tapes to Ohio State, LSU, and Georgia is an indicator of the level of talent that Anderson possesses.
The NumbersAnderson, a three-year starter for Austin-East, played a variety of positions for the Roadrunners. Rivals reports that he had 48 receptions for 1,010 yds and 14 touchdowns as senior wide receiver and 67 tackles, six interceptions, and two fumble recoveries as a defensive player. His team finished 13-1 and advanced to the third round of the playoffs in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. Anderson, who also played point guard for Austin-East's basketball team, was named to the Knoxville News Sentinel All-PrepXtra team as both a wide receiver and defensive back and was a Wendy's Heisman Award Nominee. He could play either receiver or defensive back for the Vols, and will likely factor into the return game.
Rivals ranks Anderson as the 40th best athlete nationally and the 12th best prospect in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee's official website, ESPN has Anderson ranked as the 36th best safety nationally, and Scout has him as the 13th best prospect in Tennessee.
Watching this guy on video, it quickly becomes clear that he's a playmaker. He has good vision and regularly busts out multiple juke and spin moves in a single play, shedding three and four tackles along the way. He refuses to give up on a play, which sometimes causes him to retreat in hopes that he'll find an advantage, which he usually did on his highlight tapes, but which probably won't happen for him in college.
The Bottom Line
Anthony Anderson is, in my view, yet another player who was under-appreciated by the recruiting services due to an early commitment to his local university. I especially like the statement that I quoted above: "Hopefully they see a good person who handles himself the right way and a good player who can run." Notice the order of those two characteristics. The right priorities can make all the difference.
Welcome to Tennessee, Anthony Anderson.
*GoVolsXtra said Anderson committed on the spot, not a week after his offer.