Sports

Paly grad Anderson tackles his final year with Stanford

 

Kevin Anderson has made 84 tackles as a member of the Stanford football team, 20 of those were for a loss, including nine sacks. He's also credited with nine quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. There's also that interception he returned 40 yards for a touchdown in the 2013 Rose Bowl.

Statistics, though, can't even begin to describe Anderson's contributions to the Cardinal program, which has won more than 75 percent of its games (42-12) through his first four years.

The fifth-year senior outside linebacker, who entered the program as one of the top defensive end prospects in the nation, has been fully engaged in the football team to the extent that he's become one of its most respected members.

"I feel like I just moved in the other day," Anderson said of making the journey across the El Camino Real and transitioning from Palo Alto High all-state player to preseason All-America college status. "Here I am, entering my fifth camp."

Anderson will play a large part in how Stanford "rebounds" from a five-loss season (three by a total of nine points) in its quest for a chance at the conference title.

The Cardinal (8-5 last year, including a victory over Maryland in the Foster Farms Bowl) begins its season with a road contest at Northwestern on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 9 a.m. (PT), to be televised by ESPN.

"I'm just trying to be a good athlete in general," said the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Anderson, who also threw the shot put and discus for the Vikings' track and field team. "I've had some great guys to look up to, like Trent Murphy and Chase Thomas. They set the ground work, mentally, to work hard. They showed me the framework on how to succeed and get the best out of your body."

Anderson never needed motivation for working hard physically. The civil engineering major is currently working on a master's degree in sustainable design and construction. He's always had high expectations of himself. He was named honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 team last season.

What separates Anderson is his drive to become a better player, a better person, every day. He's been willing to make sacrifices along the way. While his friends are at a late-night party, Anderson makes sure to get the right amount of sleep and to eat properly. He credits Murphy, who grew on a ranch in Arizona wrestling cattle, for showing him the way.

"I will say no to the extra cookie and no to going out," Anderson said. "There's homework to be completed."

A wrist injury kept Anderson out of spring camp, which only convinced him to work even harder.

"I realized just how much I love football," he said. "I wanted to put in extra effort to the nth degree."

Even during his redshirt season, Anderson was one of the hardest workers on the team. He was rewarded with the Greg Piers Team Award for outstanding scout team contributions; not that he needed any honors. It's nice to be recognized but Anderson's desire runs much deeper than that.

"I want to win as many games as I can, as part of the overall team effort," he said. "I want to make sure I don't fail this team and work to so that we can realize our full potential. I want to tell people I have 100 best friends, who I can ask anything of and who will be there no matter what."

Anderson already has played in two Rose Bowls and has been a part of four bowl games altogether, which includes Stanford's overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.

It wasn't that long ago, when Anderson was an eighth-grader, that the Cardinal finished 1-11 as part of a seven-year losing streak, the longest in school history.

Stanford's current streak of winning seasons began in Anderson's sophomore year at Paly.

"I remember going to games in that 1-11 season," Anderson said. "It's pretty special the culture these guys set. We don't base success on last year. We continue to work. We're not satisfied. We work to get better."

This year is no different. Stanford's goal never changes.

"Every season, it's to win the Pac-12 title first," Anderson said. "We're confident that if we win the Pac-12, we'll get one of the four (national playoff) spots."

While Stanford has a younger team than in years past, Anderson insists it's every bit as talented. He points to fellow fifth-year senior cornerback Ronnie Harris and sophomore defensive lineman Solomon Thomas as players on the verge of greatness.

"Solomon might be the strongest guy on the team," Anderson said. "He works harder than anyone. All Ronnie wants to do is get better. He lives, eats and sleeps football."

The Cardinal linebackers, meanwhile, will provide strength and experience with Blake Martinez, Kevin Palma and Peter Kalambayi.

"Everyone has played a lot," Anderson said. "We have a lot of people returning on defense. It's the most talent we've had since I've been here."

All Anderson wants is to steer everybody toward their full potential, just the way Chase Thomas and Trent Murphy did for him.

* * *

Stanford will host its annual Open House on Saturday. Activities begin with an open practice at the Elliott Practice Fields from 10 a.m. until approximately noon. Immediately following the practice, which features live scrimmaging, Shaw will address fans in attendance.

The Open House event then continues on the Elliott Practice Fields with football drill stations, games and contests until 1 p.m., after which the football team will be available for autographs on the concourse inside Maples Pavilion until 2 p.m.

Concessions will be open inside Maples Pavilion during the autograph session, with limited offerings during the open practice portion. There will also be merchandise available for purchase.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Stuart Berman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2015 at 11:17 am

Go Kevin! We'll be out there cheering for you.


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