AUBURN, Ala. — Calvin Anderson is priority No. 1 for Auburn.
With National Signing Day complete, the Rice grad transfer offensive tackle has become the centerpiece of the college football recruiting world. Anderson is highly coveted by Texas, Michigan, TCU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Auburn. The Tigers had the most recent opportunity to impress the 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive tackle.
According to Anderson, his official visit to Auburn improved the Tigers’ chances.
“I think they helped themselves greatly. I already thought pretty highly of Auburn and I didn’t know much about it, and now that I know a lot more than I did, I think they went from being great to more great,” Anderson said. “For placements and all that, I got to think through it, but I think they certainly — it’s certainly pluses. So, how many pluses, I’ll figure out, but certainly pluses.”
Anderson spent the last three seasons — 36 games in a row — as the starting left tackle for the Rice Owls. After his redshirt junior season in Houston, Anderson talked his possible NFL future over with his father. The two agreed Anderson had legitimate NFL dreams that could best reach their potential at a Power 5 institution.
That’s when Texas, Michigan and Auburn began the battle for Anderson.
Coming into the Auburn visit, Anderson’s knowledge of the Tigers was based on what he’d seen from a distance. Over the weekend, Anderson — along with his father, step mother and step sister — took an official visit to get a better understanding of what Auburn has to offer.
Following the visit, Anderson said he can see himself playing for the Tigers.
“I could. I think both literally and theoretically, because we put the uniforms on and all that. I can definitely see it. Coach [Gus] Malzahn and Coach [Chip] Lindsey, all of those guys, are just genuine. I enjoyed that. You can see when you’re in person with somebody whether or not they’re genuine,” Anderson said. “A lot of it speaks for itself. Obviously SEC football is the biggest football you can play at the collegiate level.”
Coming into the weekend, Anderson told SI.com’s Bruce Feldman that Auburn was in a tier slightly below Texas and Michigan. Most of that was based on the fact Anderson had already taken his official visits to those two programs. With the visit the Plains complete, Auburn has inserted itself firmly into that top group with the Longhorns and the Wolverines.
But, for now, Anderson doesn’t have a specific order of favorites. That will be a conversation he has with his family on the trip back to Texas.
“I’m sure we’ll spend this whole ride talking about it and spend the night talking about it too,” Anderson said. “It seems like they got a good feel and my stepmom is really good about gauging whether or not people are legitimate. She’s a lawyer so she’s a big help. You can’t get by her.”
Anderson spent most of his visit with Auburn coaches.
For some of it, however, he hung out with Tigers offensive linemen such as Mike Horton and Calvin Ashley. His main priority for all the schools he’s considering is a chance at immediate playing time. All three of his primary trio seem to give him that opportunity. With Auburn, though, he likes the idea of serving a leadership role for younger guys like Horton and Ashley. He wants to help those guys on the path to live out their NFL dreams, as well.
But it was the film sessions with offensive line coach J.B. Grimes that left the biggest impression on Anderson.
“I was happy about that, I think, the most. We sat for almost an hour and a half yesterday just talking football. Just talking fundamentals, what he saw on film, what he thinks he can help me with specifically, and that’s the stuff I really wanted to get into,” Anderson said. “All the aesthetic is great, but at the end of the day, it comes down to football. I was happy to sit down with him and talk specifically about, hey, what can we get better at? What can we do in this seven-month time?”
That seven-month time period makes Anderson’s decision fascinating.
He went to high school in Austin, Texas. That’s where the three family members who joined him this weekend reside. With the Longhorns involved, Texas would be an easy choice for Anderson to make, right?
Well, it may not be as much of a guarantee as one would think.
“Proximity to home is not really much of a factor, because I am trying to go to the best place for seven months to get prepared the best. So it’s great to be at home. All that’s great. But that’s not really weighing into this decision, because it’s a business decision,” Anderson said. “So I’m taking into account what can help me be better, and I don’t think proximity to home has anything to do with that.”
Anderson hasn’t yet finalized whether or not the Auburn official visit will be his last. He hasn’t set a firm date for his college decision, but he expects it to become well before his March 25 hard deadline.