Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. will line up to play Georgia for the third time in two years on Monday, this time for the right to claim a second national championship in as many years as a Crimson Tide player.
Anderson is arguably the best player on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, regardless of position. The sophomore leads the country with a single NCAA season record of 34.5 tackles per loss and 17.5 sacks. It’s a mind-boggling stat line that, impressive as it is, doesn’t really illustrate just how dominant he’s been all season. Some even consider him better than his 2021 Heisman Trophy winner teammate Bryce Young.
Anderson is a full member of the Crimson Tide, a decision that has paid dividends for both him and the team. But, were it not for a misstep in recruiting Kirby Smart, he would have been a member of the Bulldogs defense, adding another terrifying aspect to a unit already considered one of the most impressive in recent times. So why, then, did the Georgia native and former Bulldogs fan turn down the home team in favor of Nick Saban and The Tide?
Sporting News has the answer on why Anderson chose Alabama over Georgia:
Why did Will Anderson Jr. choose Alabama over Georgia?
Anderson chose Alabama as his school of choice for two reasons. One is that Alabama clearly understood his value as a defensive standout while in high school. The other biggest reason, and the most puzzling, is that Georgia never offered Anderson. This, despite growing up as a Georgia fan and playing at Dutchtown High School (Hampton, Ga.), Less than two hours from the Georgia campus.
Anderson said the same thing before the 2021 SEC championship game, adding that he has no hard feelings considering how well things have gone for him in Tuscaloosa:
“Yeah, I grew up as a Georgia fan,” Anderson said before the SEC championship game. “They recruited me quite a bit. I didn’t get a lot of attention from them, but it worked well. “
Will Anderson Jr.’s mother, Tereon Anderson, echoed those sentiments in an interview with 247Sports :
“Every player starts out wanting to play in their state college, so of course that was the dream. It was Will’s dream. It was what we expected when the hype came in. ‘Oh, he’s going to get the offer from UGA. ‘”said Tereon Anderson (via 247Sports). “When it didn’t happen, we made a good transition. We still love our home state, but that wasn’t the plan. So we transitioned to schools that were interested, and luckily one of them was Alabama.”
Meanwhile, Alabama was quick to offer Anderson in early 2019. By Charlie Potter from 247 Sports , Alabama football recruiting director Daniel Bush invited him and his family to Alabama Elite Junior Day, at which point Anderson had reportedly narrowed his options to Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech. Alabama made a strong impression on the family during his visit, during which Crimson Tide offered him a scholarship.
“It was just amazing,” said Tereon Anderson. “We walked in thinking we were going to go see school and find out all about Alabama, but we actually walked away like, ‘Oh my gosh. I could see it here. But we don’t think anything about it. And then they told us that Coach Saban wanted to talk to us. Of course, who is going to reject that?
“We go in and talk to Coach Saban and he was just telling Will what they could offer and things of that nature, and I see Will like, ‘If he offers me Will, I’m going to have to run out of here. be able to take it, “said Tereon Anderson.” And when Coach Saban volunteered, I cried a little. “
Alabama offered Anderson on January 27. He named Alabama his leader approximately five months later, on June 5, and then got engaged on June 17. He reportedly made five more visits to Tuscaloosa between the school’s Elite Junior Day and the early signing period in December. He signed with Crimson Tide on December 18 and became one of the first registrants.
Why didn’t Georgia offer him Will Anderson Jr.?
Smart has earned a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country. So how did what should have been a home run offer for Anderson, a state recruit within the Georgia recruiting grounds, gotten lost?
According to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution , Smart only had room for a linebacker commitment in the 2020 class. Ultimately, he prioritized MJ Sherman outside of Washington, DC, even after sustaining a knee injury. Sherman the No. 33 general player and No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2022 class, finally signed with the Bulldogs.
But why did Smart choose to go with Sherman instead of the state conscript? According to Anderson’s high school coach Clifford Fedd, Georgia didn’t know what to do with him as he had yet to complete his 6-4, 235-pound frame.
“They were interested in him,” Fedd told 247Sports. “He went there and visited them a couple of times, if I’m not mistaken. Of course, being in Georgia, a lot of these kids grow up to be Georgia fans and that becomes the school of their dreams.”
“But from my understanding of recruiting, they recruited him, but he was a middle kid. They didn’t know if he would fit into the outside linebacker scheme where they would use him more in space and use him away from home, out of the box or if he was going to grow up big enough to play technique four to be a defensive tackle. So he was in the middle. He wasn’t big enough for one, but he wasn’t agile or athletic for another either. “
“Alabama, they already knew what they wanted to do with him. He’s going to be a fast pass specialist: ‘We want him to come get the quarterback. We’ll just use him to cover. We want him to pass fast and fast pass some more. Georgia I just didn’t know what they wanted to do with it, and to be honest, they broke up and never offered it to him. “
Saban, prior to the 2021 SEC championship, provided an insight into what he saw of Anderson in high school:
“Oh, we loved Will Anderson in high school,” Saban said. “It was a big size. You could see the initial speed, the explosive power. We weren’t sure if he would end up being a standing player or would end up minimizing. He does both for us now and he does them very well. He’s certainly been everything we thought he would be, and I think that’s because of the type of person he is, the type of competitive character that he has, the leadership qualities that he has. “
Soccer coaches scoff at recruiting ratings, but it’s also worth noting that Anderson wasn’t as rated during his draft as he was after signing with Tide.
Based on qualifying history, Anderson was rated the 78th overall player in the country three days before signing with Alabama. It wasn’t until January 31, 2020, that he became a five-star prospect, jumping 61 spots to the No. 17 player overall. its end 247 Sports Biography It marks him as the 17th player overall in the country, the No. 1 weak side defensive end and the No. 4 player in the state of Georgia.
Will Anderson Jr. Highlights
Anderson has wreaked havoc against opposing offenses not only as a fast passing specialist, but also as a run-stopper. Below are some of his highlights throughout his second campaign:
Will Anderson Jr.
Regardless of the reasoning, Anderson has made the most of his decision to play for Alabama. The FWAA freshman of the year made an explosive debut in Tuscaloosa, finishing second on the team with 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Anderson used that season as the starting point for his sophomore season, in which he racked up 34.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks. He is credited with a total of 98 tackles, nine quarterbacks and two interrupted passes.