Remember when NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson had that infamous rant about “practice.”
That’s an approach that UGA coaches will never have to worry about with outside linebacker Adam Anderson, one of the team’s most promising young players on defense.
Even though Anderson was a consensus 5-star recruit and terrific player out of Rome (Ga.) High School, perhaps the biggest void that he left behind was his gung-ho attitude towards practice.
“Obviously Adam is a 6-foot-5 demon of a player, but what bothered me more than anything else was losing his spirit at practice,” Anderson’s coach, John Reid, told DawgNation.
“On a hot day in full pads, he would go through one drill to another screaming like he was at an amusement park. That’s hard to replace.”
Progression from freshman year
The 6-5, 225-pound Anderson is a candidate to be one of UGA’s “breakout players” this season. Last year as a freshman, he played immediately on special teams. As the season progressed, Anderson was rewarded with more playing time, often appearing in third downs in blitzing situations. By the end of the year, he was sometimes used in an every-down role.
Even though Anderson cracked into the lineup as a freshman, he hasn’t come anywhere close to fulfilling his enormous potential. But he’s making progress in that direction, especially with his technique and muscle gain.
“Some of the things we taught him (in high school) – we’d look at film, and I would tell him ‘you’re not going to be able to get away with that’ in college,” Reid said. “I’m sure he learned that abruptly when he was going up against SEC offensive tackles.
“It helps him develop by going up against the tremendous guys that Georgia has every day in practice, especially (Andrew Thomas). You can’t go up against a better guy than that in college … I’m sure Georgia will utilize every bit of talent that Adam has.”
And the muscle gain? “He is getting a lot more muscular with his traps, and his face is filling out. If he gets into the range from 235 to 240 pounds, look out. Because at 220, he could lift most people off the ground in a pass rush.”
Similar talent as Leonard Floyd?
Because of his tall and lanky frame, along with his extraordinary speed and quickness, Anderson has been compared by some to former UGA star Leonard Floyd, who became a first-round pick by the NFL’s Chicago Bears. Anderson’s coach doesn’t want to put that type of pressure on his prized pupil, but he can’t deny the obvious:
“I just want him to do what makes him happy, and what he enjoys doing in life. But from a physical standpoint, my goodness – I would hate to think that that kid is not a potential first-round draft choice in the NFL, if that’s what he wants to do, especially with his demeanor.
“Hopefully he keeps that same demeanor, and the sky will be the limit — as long as he keeps it fun, and continues to have a passion for the game.”
Anderson has already created a legacy for himself with his practice intensity (and appetite). In fact, he’s programmed to go so hard in practice that it bothered him this past spring when he didn’t get as many reps as he wanted.
Adam Anderson: Polite and unassuming
“I asked Adam how was spring practice going, and he said he didn’t get a lot of reps,” Reid said with a laugh. “And I said ‘that’s because you’re starting.’ He was like, ‘Yes, that’s what I think.’ We talked about how (UGA) wasn’t giving him as many reps because they didn’t want him to get banged up in the spring, but Adam still wanted more practice reps.
“That’s another thing about Adam — he’s very unassuming. One piece of advice I gave Adam when he left for Georgia was ‘You don’t have to go in there and wait your turn. I don’t want that to sound the wrong way, but you’re recruited by Georgia to push to get on the field right away.’
“I had to say that because Adam is very polite. I didn’t want Adam to wait his turn just because he wants to be liked (by his teammates). I told him that’s not your duty when you go to practice. Your duty is to win a spot.’”
If nothing else, Anderson earned a lot of respect from his elder teammates — along with many in the UGA fanbase — for obliterating the rest of the squad in a hot-wing eating contest.