South Carolina DL discusses commitment to Maryland
Justin Anderson admits that the start of his academic career at Blythewood (S.C.) High School was less than exemplary.
But once Anderson realized what a subpar academic record could ultimately cost him, the 6-foot-5, 265-pounder changed his tune in the classroom.
“Playing football, it’s very important to me,” Anderson said. “Once I saw I had the opportunity and was blessed to play football at the next level, my intensity level [in the classroom] was through the roof. In order to play at the next level, I had to hit the books hard enough to qualify. Once I qualified, I knew football would take care of itself, so academics became more important.”
Anderson said Maryland verbally offered him almost a year ago, but he didn’t receive a firm offer until last week on an unofficial visit to College Park for the Florida State game. Anderson’s improved academics played a role in the offer, and Maryland’s emphasis on the classroom helped sway Anderson to commit to the Terps on Monday.
“[UM coaches stressed their] academic programs and all the tutoring,” Anderson said. “The coaches check up on the players in the classroom and let you know what they expect you to have. You have to make it academically. They stress you’re a student-athlete, and student comes before athlete. The coaches say you come up to Maryland to get your education and also play football. That’s what [Maryland outside linebackers coach Al] Seamonson stressed on the visit.”
Anderson, who’s considering a major in sports management, said he hopes to make his official visit to College Park the weekend of Dec. 13. He said he was glad to see the Terps in action last weekend, despite the result.
“It was a great experience when I came up to watch the Florida State game, even though they lost,” Anderson said. “The atmosphere was special, especially the blackout. The fans were intense for the game. I had a great time.”
Anderson played exclusively on the defensive line as a senior for Blythewood, so most of his conversations have been with members of Maryland's defensive staff.
“I’ve just been talking to [Maryland defensive line coach Dave] Sollazzo. He can’t wait for me to get up there and start coaching me. They haven’t decided [if I’ll play] defensive end or defensive tackle. If I continue growing and gaining weight, it may be defensive tackle. We really don’t know as of right now.”
Anderson said he’s thankful that Maryland coaches stuck by him while he got his academics in order. He said he's relieved to be done with recruiting.
“The coaches [at Blythewood] told me the recruiting system is like a wave -- sometimes you might be the highest and most talked about, but sometimes you’re at the lowest,” Anderson said. “It was a great feeling getting off that tidal wave and becoming a Terrapin.”