Sports column: Anderson could end Vicksburg’s long NFL draft drought

Published 3:55 am Saturday, April 29, 2023

Vicksburg has certainly produced its fair share of NFL talent over the years. More than a dozen players from here have had careers ranging from a few games to Super Bowl champions. Even more have made a living playing in other leagues such as the CFL or XFL.

We’re no stranger to seeing our guys play on Sunday, but hearing their names called on the final weekend in April is a different story. It has been 23 years since the Seattle Seahawks selected Warren Central alum James Williams in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft.

Williams was the fourth player from Vicksburg drafted in a span of nine years — along with Warren Central’s Tony Smith (1992), and Vicksburg High’s Mark Smith (1997) and Michael Myers (1998) — and there hasn’t been another one since.

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Our more recent contributions to the league have come in the form of undrafted free agents. Former Vicksburg High star Malcolm Butler, who won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, is the most famous, but fellow Gator Norman Price and St. Aloysius products DeMichael Harris and Ben Brown have also gotten opportunities.

Harris played in nine games over two seasons with the Colts. Brown was injured during training camp last year, but remains on the Bengals’ roster.

Price has played in preseason games for several teams, and spent a season on the 49ers’ practice squad, but has not yet been in a regular-season game. He’s currently playing for the XFL’s San Antonio Brahmas.

Those are just the ones currently bouncing around. Several others had opportunities that didn’t pan out for one reason or another.

Getting someone to pay you to play football is nothing to scoff at. A small percentage of high school players get to go on to college football, and an even smaller number than that go on to any level of pro ball.

Still, considering Warren County has produced its share of pro-level players over the years, it’s an odd stat that none of them were among the 250 or so who NFL teams spend a draft pick on.

We have another candidate this year, with Nick Anderson. There’s a 99.9 percent chance that the Tulane linebacker and former VHS standout will be on an NFL offseason roster by the time he goes to bed Saturday night.

Other than two inches of height — he’s about 6 feet tall, and NFL teams like their linebackers to be about 6-2 — he’s everything they could ask for. He’s an excellent tackler, can move around the defensive formation, smart enough to recognize and work on any of his deficiencies, and an outstanding young man.

Anderson’s 40-yard dash time (4.58) is probably about the same as his GPA at Tulane. He’s accumulated a number of team, university and civic awards as well, and prides himself on being a good citizen as well as a good football player.

None of the good works mean much to NFL teams, of course, if he can’t cover a running back coming out in the flat, but it makes Anderson the kind of player you root for. Not just because he’s a hometown guy, but because he’s a good guy.

“Nobody down here is getting into trouble. They are good character, good quality people. That helps with an organization that you are trying to sell yourself to,” Anderson said of Tulane. “The fact you’ve never been in any trouble and can handle yourself on and off the field. Overall, Tulane has done a great job of preparing us to excel and go to the next level.”

Anderson is a rare combination of brains, brawn and character. He’s a guy who “gets it” — that nothing is handed to you, and opportunities like the ones in front of him this weekend are exceedingly rare and fleeting.

Here’s hoping he gets his chance and makes the most of it. Twenty-three years is long enough without having a player drafted. Nick Anderson is one who deserves to break that streak.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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