At 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, with the brute strength to run over defenders, the agility to step around them and the speed to leave them grasping for his shirttail, Eden Prairie running back Anthony Anderson was the breakout star of the 2013 Class 6A football playoffs.
In only his second year as a running back, Anderson had college coaches wondering how talent like his could have escaped their notice.
“I heard from a lot of coaches after the state tournament who had never heard of me before,” Anderson said.
Due to his inexperience at the position — he moved up to the Eden Prairie varsity as a tight end — and his lateness to the recruiting dance and all of the steps needed to be eligible, Anderson will play for Iowa Western Junior College in Council Bluffs, Iowa, this fall. If he continues to improve, a Division I football opportunity is likely.
Staff writer Jim Paulsen caught up with Anderson to find how much his impressive senior season has changed his life.
Q: Looking back, how do you remember the football season?
A: I was nervous going in. There was a lot of pressure and not a lot of people knew who I was. I wasn’t sure I could do a lot.
Q: How did you overcome that?
A: Honestly, I wanted to prove myself to people. But I couldn’t have done anything without the help of my teammates and my friends. That was the biggest part of it.
Q: What has happened in the months since the tournament?
A: I’ve had a lot of opportunities and a lot of doors have opened up. I didn’t go the route that others go, but I’m still going to work hard to get my chance.
Q: Why Iowa Western?
A: The only junior colleges I talked to were Arizona Western and Iowa Western, which both have good football programs. I was originally going to Arizona Western, but I talked to [University of Minnesota] Coach Kill and he said that Iowa Western is also a school that really looks out for you academically.
Q: How long do you plan on being there?
A: A year and a half. I leave for school in two weeks. I have to make the most of this opportunity to so that bigger schools can see me and know what I can do.
Q: What Division I schools have talked to you?
A: Minnesota has talked to me a lot. They’re one of the main reasons I’m going to Iowa Western. And I’ve heard from Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, Wyoming and New Mexico.
Q: What do you still have to learn?
A: The biggest thing for me is learning this position. Things like what to do without the ball in my hands, like blocking. A lot of running backs, like [Jeff] Jones, have been doing this all their lives. I’m still just learning.
Q: You grew up in Minneapolis, How did you end up at Eden Prairie in the first place?
A: Before freshman year, I was thinking about DeLaSalle, Holy Angels and Washburn. I took all the entrance exams. I heard about Eden Prairie and my parents decided to check it out. It had a great football program and it was great academically.
Q: Was it difficult leaving Minneapolis?
A: At first, it was weird. I wasn’t used to the environment. Everyone was friendly here!
Q: Glad you made the move to Eden Prairie?
A: Oh yeah. It’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.