Looks Like University Of Illinois - Jordan Anderson
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That's him on the left in this photo. I just thought the photo was funny in a "find the college athlete" sense. No disrespect to the kid next to him in the black shirt and black shorts - he might be 14 years old for all I know - but Jordan Anderson has a slight edge on you in the "ready for college football" category.
And yes, I know that's Malachi Hood in the Illini shirt. I'll be writing his LLUOI soon. I'm just pointing out that Jordan Anderson is a big dude.
I'm also likely going to do the same thing with Anderson that I did with Josh McCray: "No way he's a running back, right?". He'll likely end up at tailback as I learn exactly what this staff wants at tailback but when I watch this film, I see an eventual EDGE guy. It's so hard for me to not see a kid who is already 220 lbs. as a junior in high school ending up as a 6'-3", 255 lb. pass rusher.
Now, I've already backtracked on saying that re: McCray. I wrote his entire LLUOI post saying "if he's already 220 lbs, he's more likely a defensive tackle than a running back". Then Bret Bielema talked about John Clay a bunch during pressers this spring (Wisconsin's 255 lb running back during the Bielema era in Madison), and I started to change my tune, realizing that we're not going to have Jakari Norwoods at tailback under Bielema - we're going to have John Clays.
But Clay was 6'-1", and Josh McCray is 6'-2". Jordan Anderson is listed at 6'-3", and looking at all of these pictures, I believe it. Malachi Hood is listed as 6'-2", and look at how much taller Anderson is in that picture. Hood is probably closer to 6'-0". And Anderson is probably pushing 6'-4".
It's going to take a lot of mental adjustment for me to picture a 6'-4" running back. Reggie Corbin was 5'-10". Chase Brown is 5'-11". Anderson is currently listed at 6'-3". Yes, everyone always points to Eddie George and Derrick Henry (both 6'-3"), but they're the exception. Ezekiel Elliot: 6'-0". Dalvin Cook: 5'-10". Jonathan Taylor: 5'-10". Aaron Jones: 5'-9". Nick Chubb: 5'-11".
So that's my bias here. I see 6'-3" and I see former Illini TE Jon Davis. Now, Jon Davis was used as an H-back who would shift into the backfield and he did get 41 carries in his four years in Champaign, more than half of those carries in 2012 when Chris Beatty and Billy Gonzalez decided to use him as their tailback for a few games. But in nearly every other game, he was a tight end.
I'm not sure Anderson is a tight end. I'm just that guy who looks at a kid who is 6'-3", 220 as a junior and says "won't be at running back for long." (And then, like with McCray, I change my mind months later.)
Let's look at some of his film. In every one of these my main reaction is "look at how big he is!", so yeah, I'm probably not going to shut up about it for the rest of this post.
Here he is bullying a poor cornerback trying to tackle him:
And here he is looking like a defensive end being handed the ball in the backfield and then running past/shoving away the JV defense:
Now, this one I really love. Huge fan of all "wait, he's still on his feet?" highlights:
So I see that, and I'm excited, and then my immediate thought is that we were the only Power Five program to offer him. Maybe we can blame that on Covid? Let's go through his Twitter timeline.
In the fall of 2019 (so during his sophomore season) he visits Iowa State and Notre Dame for game day visits. He also visits Wisconsin in early March of 2020 (10 days before Covid), so he was at least on the radar of other midwest programs.
Then, Covid. No camps, no visits, no coaches visiting his high school - nothing. But the offers do begin to roll in. In order, Toledo, Bowling Green, Ball State, Miami (OH), Eastern Michigan, and Central Michigan. So half the MAC. But no P5 offers yet.
He doesn't have a fall season (the State of Illinois moved football to the spring), so nothing really happens after those offers (at least not on his Twitter timeline). His six-game high school season runs from March 19th to April 23rd, and after the fourth game, on April 9th, he gets an offer from Illinois. His season ends on April 23rd and he verbals to Illinois on April 29th.
So yes, I can see how this was a "grab him before others notice" kind of thing. He didn't publish his junior film on Hudl until April 25th and on April 29th he was an Illinois commit. Still, we need to acknowledge that he did visit Wisconsin, Iowa State, and Notre Dame as a sophomore, so they were tracking him just like Illinois was tracking him, and they did not offer. Nor did anyone else.
Ratings-wise, ESPN still has not rated him. It's pretty sad how ESPN has approached this class, to be honest. They've given a star rating to 9 of the 10 recruits (which doesn't really mean much - 90% of recruits get three stars now) but they've only graded three of the 10 recruits. Here's what the page looks like as of today:
Weakest of all weak sauces, ESPN. Rivals has him as a 5.5 three-star (they rate from 5.5 to 5.7 for three-stars). 247 has him as an 85 (three-stars run from 79 to 88).
The other thing to consider before getting to Tom Cruises: his position. Both ESPN and Rivals list him as an ATH which is recruiting for "won't play his high school position once in college." 247 lists him as a running back. The coaches can't talk about him until he signs in December, so we won't really know their plan for him until then. My guess is OLB, but that's just my Tall Running Back Bias. I'll probably never conquer my TRBB.
6'-3, 220 probably translates to 6'-3", 255 by his senior year of college. Maybe 6'-4" (he's just a HS junior). That's probably right around the height and weight they want for these OLB positions in this defense. So while he could be a tight end like Jon Davis, I'm thinking eventually OLB.
Which would mean he has a position to learn in college. Which always keeps the Tom Cruises a little lower. As does "besides Illinois, only had MAC offers". So I don't think I can go very high on Cruises. Blame my TRBB.
Jordan Anderson - One and three-quarters Tom Cruises.