Vicksburg’s Anderson combines brains and brawn
Published 9:57 am Friday, September 2, 2016
Two years ago, Nick Anderson’s high school football career hit a brick wall when he came home with a bad grade.
His parents, Emmarie and Stephen Anderson, pulled him off of Vicksburg High’s ninth-grade team until he brought it up. It kept the then-freshman linebacker from participating in spring practice and cost him his starting spot.
It also taught him a very valuable lesson — if he wants to play football, he’d better shape up and not bring home another B in Spanish.
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Anderson worked hard and brought his B back up to an A. He’s also regained his starting spot on Vicksburg’s defense and credited his forced break from football for his emergence as a star in the Gators’ lineup.
“That is the reason for all my success now,” Anderson said. “At first, I didn’t really take it as serious as I was supposed to, and when it comes to my parents, without grades there’s no football. And so when they did that to me, they really helped me. Not only did it help strengthen me with my grades, it helped me become more focused on what I had to do.”
Anderson has a rare combination of intelligence and athletic ability that he’s been able to turn into genius in the classroom and the football field. He has a 4.23 GPA that’s only a touch lower than his 4.6-second time in the 40-yard dash, and is on course to be Vicksburg’s valedictorian in the Class of 2018. He studies game film as enthusiastically as his textbooks, and is a beast in the weight room.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder bench presses 330 pounds and squats 525. During one summer weightlifting session in July, Anderson’s teammates stopped their own workouts to gather around him as he attempted to bench press more than 300 pounds. They cheered him on, the volume reaching a crescendo as he locked his arms to complete the lift.
“I try to get them to stop standing around watching him. He takes care of business in the weight room,” Vicksburg head coach Marcus Rogers said as the Gators prepared to face archrival Warren Central on Friday night. “With all that strength, he’s still flexible and can run. That puts us in a good situation this week.”
Anderson had 61 tackles last season, and already has 17 this year. He recorded 10 tackles and recovered a fumble in a 21-6 win over Terry last week.
Anderson is a physical marvel, but his success is just as rooted in an intellectual approach to the game. He studies hours of game film each week to learn the tendencies of that week’s opponent, and often sees it pay off when he recognizes plays based off of formations or subtle movements.
“At home, that’s all I do is film, film, film. Based off film, you can see a lot of what the team is going to do. So last night I was watching film on Warren Central and before they even ran a play I was calling it out,” Anderson said.
He’s also a bookworm in the more traditional sense. Anderson’s football ability has already made him a college prospect. Rogers said he’s gotten calls from UAB, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and a few others.
Anderson’s GPA, however, is just as appealing to college scouts.
“The way I look at it is, everybody can play football. But what stands out most to colleges is your academics. So as long as I keep that up and keep doing what I’m doing, it’s easier for me,” Anderson said.
It all goes back to that B in Spanish. The “bad” grade that nearly took him off the football field for good snapped him back to attention and taught him a lesson he’ll never forget.
“Not playing that spring, it set me back and caused me to lose my starting position,” Anderson said. “Last year, I had to work, work, work. Late nights in the gym, practice on Sundays, just giving it all my time. And now that I’m in the position I am now, I’m still working because I don’t want to lose it.”
FRIDAY’S AREA GAMES
All games start at 7 p.m.
Warren Central at Vicksburg (Radio: 105.5 FM and 1490 AM)
St. Al at Madison-St. Joe (Radio: 101.3 FM)
PCA at Central Hinds (Radio: 104.5 FM)
Tallulah Academy at Unity Christian
Humphreys Academy at Rebul Academy
Port Gibson at Terry
General Trass at Madison Parish