Season recap: Justin Anderson
Maryland defensive line commitment Justin Anderson wasn’t accustomed to losing during his high school career at Blythewood (S.C.).
The Bengals compiled a 24-game winning streak dating back to Anderson’s sophomore season. So when Blythewood started the 2008 season 0-2, Anderson did his best to lead the Bengals out of that unfamiliar territory.
“We started off losing to Fairfield Central and Crestwood. They were bad games for leadership, but Justin stepped up to lead,” said Blythewood head coach Geremy Saitz. “Then we were playing Richland Northeast. They have about three or four [Division 1 recruits] every year. It’s a good, strong, traditional football program.
“We were up 12-7 and they were driving at the end of the game. On about fourth-and-2, Justin just broke through the offensive line and tackled [the running back] for a 3-yard loss. We won the next four games after that. That just turned the tables for us in the season. Justin put a lot on his shoulders. He got to man up enough to carry us.”
Blythewood, which lost 10 offensive starters from the 2007 team, finished 5-5 this year. Anderson, 6 feet 5, 265 pounds, recorded 34 solo tackles, 17 assists, two sacks, nine quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick. According to Saitz, Blythewood’s Anderson-led defense kept the team in games.
“He’s always been a hard worker. He really controls the line of scrimmage,” Saitz said. “His reach with his height and how he uses his hands to separate from offensive blockers have been his best assets on the defensive line. He works really hard and he’s been a beast in the weight room. He’s always getting stronger.”
Anderson picked the Terps over interest from Kentucky and Marshall, among others. According to Saitz, some schools were wary of recruiting Anderson due to shaky academics, but those concerns have since been alleviated thanks to a much-improved effort in the classroom.
Saitz said a recent incident involving Anderson, some of teammates and an academic advisor exemplified Anderson’s maturity.
“We had a couple seniors [that showed a] lack of leadership, and they were being disrespectful to her (the academic advisor),” Saitz said. “Justin’s always been a silent leader, but this was a time he just told them, ‘ya’ll aren’t acting right.’ He stood up and just jumped all over these guys, just talking. He let them know it wasn’t right to treat someone that way. That just shows his character. He’s a top-notch character guy.”