TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson is away from the football facilities for too long, he can’t wait to get back.
Anderson, a senior, is one of the Crimson Tide’s leaders that has worked hard throughout the year to build team chemistry.
The overall togetherness has become a big part of Alabama’s success on the field. Guys want to play harder for each other.
“I feel like everybody is real close on this team, man,” Anderson said. “That’s how it’s been the last few years. As a guy that’s been around on some teams that wasn’t like that, I wasn’t going to leave here and let it go back the other way. I wanted to set a good example for all these younger guys. Even if it’s just the younger guys at my position group, you know what I mean. Just get ’em and spend time with ’em.”
Anderson will lead Alabama’s defense into a top-10 matchup vs. Texas A&M on Saturday. Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Anderson has been where some of the young Alabama players are now. He redshirted his first year in Tuscaloosa after coming in as a 4-star linebacker in Alabama’s 2012 recruiting class.
As a redshirt freshman, the majority of Anderson’s time on the field came on special teams and mop-up duty. Anderson wasn’t always happy with his role, but he remained patient and has blossomed into one of the top defenders on Alabama’s team and in the country.
“You got a lot of guys that’s young, redshirting or on scout team and they’re probably feeling just like I felt. Like you’re really not a part of the team,” Anderson said. “I just try to make sure everybody get those guys the most. Put your arm around them, let them know to keep working and that we all love and we appreciate what they’re doing.”
Anderson took it upon himself to lead Alabama’s defense and his position group in his final year in Tuscaloosa. Anderson is mentoring Alabama’s young outside linebacker like Christian Miller, Anfernee Jennings, Terrell Hall and others.
Miller has 10 total tackles and 2 sacks on the season. Jennings has 9 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Hall, a true freshman, has 4 tackles and a sack this season.
That trio will likely take over for Anderson and Tim Williams next season.
“Christian and Anfernee, they’re really growing as players,” Anderson said. “Christian getting better everyday. Anferenee is getting better everyday. Those two dudes are going to be real good. And Terrell Hall, he’s getting better. T-Hall, he’s a very smart kid. He catches on to stuff the first time you tell him. He’s learning how to play. He’s learning how to practice hard so he can play hard. It’s fun watching that.”
Anderson has a team-high 8.5 sacks to go with 4.5 sacks and 25 total tackles. Anderson has 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 4 quarterback hurries on the season.
“When I get up everyday, I look forward to coming here and seeing my teammates, man,” Anderson said. “When we get a break or something — everybody is ready to get a break — but after I’m home or I don’t see them for two or three days, I miss ’em, man. We all be ready to get back.”