Will Anderson at Alabama: Why a Georgia native, a former fan chose Crimson Tide over Bulldogs

External player Alabamy Will Anderson Jr. will face Georgia for the third time in two years on Monday – this time for the right to win a second national championship after so many years as Crimson Tide.

Anderson will probably be the best player on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, regardless of position. The sophomore leads the country with an NCAA record in one season, 34.5 losses per loss and 17.5 bags. It’s a charming statistic that, while impressive, doesn’t really show how dominant it has been all season. Some even consider him better than teammate Bryce Young, winner of the Heisman Trophy of 2021.

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Anderson is a full member of Crimson Tide, a decision that has paid off for him and the team. But if it weren’t for Kirby Smart’s mistaken recruitment, he would be a member of the Bulldogs defense and add another scary aspect to the unit, which is already considered one of the most impressive in recent memory. So why did a Georgian native and former Bulldogs fan reject the home team in favor of Nick Saban and Tide?

Sporting News has an answer to why Anderson chose Alabama over Georgia:

Why Will Anderson Jr. chose Alabama over Georgia?

Anderson chose Alabama as his school for two reasons. One is that Alabama clearly understood its value as a defensive position when he was in high school. Another, bigger reason – and most disturbing – is that Georgia never offered Anderson. Even though he grew up as a Georgia fan and played at Dutchtown High School (Hampton, GA), less than two hours from the Georgian campus.

Anderson said this before the SEC 2021 championship, adding that he has no hard feelings about how well he did in Tuscaloos:

“Yeah, I grew up to be a Georgia fan,” Anderson said before the SEC championship game. “They recruited me a little.” I didn’t get much attention from them, but it turned out well. “

Will Anderson Jr.’s mother, Tereon Anderson, reiterated these feelings in an interview with 247Sports:

“Every player starts by wanting to play in their state’s college, so of course it was a dream. It was a dream for Will. It was what we expected when the hype came.” UGA, ”said Tereon Anderson (via 247Sports). “When that didn’t happen, we went well. We still love our home state, but it wasn’t a plan. So we went to schools that showed interest, which fortunately was one of them, Alabama.”

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Alabama, meanwhile, quickly offered Anderson in early 2019. According to Charlie Potter of 247 Sports, Alabama Football Recruitment Director Daniel Bush invited him and his family to Alabama’s Elite Junior Day, when Anderson allegedly narrowed his selection to Auburn, LSU. , Tennessee and Georgia Tech. Alabama made a strong impression on his family during his visit, during which Crimson Tide offered him a scholarship.

“It was amazing,” Tereon Anderson said. “We came in thinking we’d go to school and find out all about Alabama, but we actually left like, ‘Oh my God.’ I could see him here.” But we didn’t think about it. And then they told us, that Coach Saban wants to talk to us, of course, who will refuse?

“We went in and talked to Coach Saban and he just told Will what they could offer and things like that, and I look at Will like, ‘If he offers Will, I’ll have to get out of here.’ “Tereon Anderson said. “And when Coach Saban offered me, I cried a little.”

Alabama offered Anderson on January 27. About five months later, on June 5, he appointed Alabama as its leader, then committed on June 17. Between the school’s Elite Junior Day and the early signing period in December, he reportedly made another five visits to Tuscaloosa. He signed with Crimson Tide on December 18 and soon became enrolled.

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Why didn’t Georgia offer Will Anderson Jr.?

Smart has earned a reputation as one of the leading recruiters in the country. So how did he miss what the domestic offer was supposed to be for Anderson, a state recruit located in Georgia’s recruitment territories?

According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smart had room in the 2020 class for only one submitted linebacker. In the end, he preferred MJ Sherman of Washington, DC, even though he suffered a knee injury. Sherman, player No. 33 in the overall standings and No. 2 external defender in the 2022 class, eventually signed a contract with the Bulldogs.

But why did Smart decide to go through state recruits with Sherman? According to Anderson’s high school coach Clifford Fedda, Georgia did not know what to do with him because he had not yet reached his 6-4.235 pound.

“They were interested in him,” Fedd told Sports. “He went there and visited them several times, if I’m not mistaken. Of course they are in Georgia, many of these children grow up as fans of Georgia and that becomes their dream school.”

“But in my understanding of recruitment, they recruited him, but it was something in between. They didn’t know if he would fit into the outer linebacker’s scheme, where they would use him more in space and use him in and around.” after unpacking from the box, or if he was to grow up to be big enough to play four defense techniques. So he was in between. He wasn’t big enough for one, but then he wasn’t agile or athletic for the other. “

“Alabama, they already knew what they wanted to do with him. He’ll be a pass-rush specialist. ‘We want him to come after the quarterback. We’ll hardly use him to cover him. what they want to do with him, so somehow they dropped out and never offered it to me to be honest. “

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Before the SEC 2021, Saban provided some insight into what he saw from Anderson in high school:

“Oh, we loved Will Anderson in high school,” Saban said. The initial speed, the explosive force, was visible. We didn’t know for sure if he would end up as a stand-up player or play down. Now he does both for us and he does both very well. It was definitely everything we thought it would be, and I think it’s because of what it is, what it’s competitive and the leadership it has. “

Football coaches ridicule recruitment ratings, but it’s also worth noting that Anderson wasn’t nearly as rated during recruitment as after he signed with Tide.

According to the history of the evaluation, Anderson was ranked the 78th overall player in the country three days before the signing of the contract with Alabama. It was not until January 31, 2020 that he became a five-star candidate and jumped 61 places to 17th place in the overall standings. His final biography, 247Sports, identifies him as No. 17 in the country, No. 1 in weakening the defense, and No. 4 in Georgia.

Will Anderson Jr. emphasizes

Anderson caused confusion against enemy offenses not only as a pass-rushing specialist, but also as a defender who stopped running. Below are some of his most significant events during his second campaign:

Statistics Will Anderson Jr

Whatever the reasons, Anderson made the most of his decision to play in Alabama. FWAA Freshman of the Year had an explosive debut in Tuscaloos, finishing second in the team with 10.5 tacks per loss and seven sacks. Anderson used this season as a starting point for his second season, in which he collected 34.5 losses for loss and 17.5 bags. He has a total of 98 matches, nine quarterback hits and two breaks.

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