With a year of experience under his belt, having played in 13 games with two starts, Anderson’s role on the team is sure to increase in 2012 when South Carolina opens the season on Aug. 30 with a Southeastern Conference game at Vanderbilt.
“(The coaching staff) wanted me to come in ready last year as a freshman,” Anderson said. “They felt like I had a chance to play right away, so I went out and worked hard to make it happen. I performed in practice and on the field and played myself into a good spot in the rotation. I ended up getting a lot of playing time on the field because of it.”
Anderson, a former McEachern standout, proved his value game-by-game, not only as a blocking tight end, but also as a receiver. He caught two passes for 21 yards against Vanderbilt and one for 46 yards versus Kentucky. Over the final five games of the season, Anderson had four catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns. His first career touchdown — a 23-yard score against Tennessee — sealed the victory for the Gamecocks.
Anderson isn’t surprised he was able to contribute to the South Carolina offense because he felt like he had the right coaching at McEachern.
“I learned good technique in high school,” he said. “I knew I could come in and catch balls and block as well as anybody else. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make has been with the size of players. I knew at the end of the season that I would have to get bigger if I wanted to get even more playing time and experience.”
So, Anderson worked in the offseason to build his frame, but maintain his speed and technique. As an incoming freshman, he weighed roughly 200 to 205 pounds. Entering his sophomore season, Anderson tips the scale at roughly 230.
“The extra weight helps out a lot,” he said. “When I first came out for camp last year, I had good technique, but this camp it’s even easier now with the weight I’ve gained. I’m not where I want to be, but being able to sustain blocks and shed blockers to go run routes is easier.
“Coaches like how I stretch the field and make mismatches for linebackers. I was already a big target, so I guess now I’m an even bigger target.”
McEachern coach Kyle Hockman had a feeling Anderson would fit in well with the system at South Carolina.
“(Anderson) has the technique and he has a great understanding of the leverage required at that position,” he said. “He’s a special and talented kid. I was a little surprised he could block so well as a freshman in the SEC, but he was always a physical guy for us and blocked and dominated as a junior and senior. So, I really don’t know why I should have been surprised.
“He still has great hands and speed, so I knew that wouldn’t be a problem for him. He’ll continue to develop his body to handle the position. He has all the tools, and we look forward to watching him on television this season.”
Anderson acknowledged that while he isn’t considered to be the Gamecocks’ primary starter at tight end entering the 2012 campaign, he’ll factor heavily once again in the rotation.
“I still have a tight end in front of me who is a senior,” he said. “So, we’ll rotate about three guys this year to keep us all fresh.”
Anderson appears to be willing to compete for playing time, and will do as much as possible to be a better player in the Gamecocks’ offense this season.
“I want to be all-around a better player,” he said. “Hopefully, the quarterback will have even more confidence in me this season and I’ll get more touches. In the past in this offense, the tight end wasn’t used as much, but now they have more faith in us, so it should be an exciting season.”