Holy Angels running back/linebacker Jack Anderson has been one of his team’s top players since he was a sophomore.
Anderson won the starting running back and linebacker jobs prior to his sophomore season, and he quickly became an impact player for the Stars.
Since his sophomore season, Anderson has continued to improve and his continued improvement helped him earn numerous Division-I college football offers. Anderson ended his recruitment by announcing his commitment to Western Illinois July 27.
“It’s pretty nice, actually,” Anderson said. “It has been a dream for a while and it is a lot less stressful.
“This summer has been a lot of travel with my dad to camps and visits trying to find the best school. After visiting Western Illinois I found that was the best fit for me and I’m very grateful and glad I made that decision.”
When it came time to make his college decision, Anderson said the coaching staff as Western Illinois made it rather easy.
“I would definitely say the coaching staff and their environment set them apart,” Anderson said. “The coaching staff went out of their way to get me on campus, show me around and get close with me and my parents.
“It’s a pretty small town, and football in a small town is a pretty great thing. Everyone comes to the games in the town and it’s a great environment where a lot of great linebackers come out of.”
Anderson will focus on defense at Western Illinois, as he will solely be a linebacker at the next level. While Anderson will not contribute to Western Illinois’ offense, he believes the skills he picked up as a running back will help him in college.
“I feel I bring a lot of intensity,” Anderson said. “I would say I’m one of the more athletic linebackers, I can really get those big hits that pump everybody up.”
Before Anderson leaves for Western Illinois, however, he will continue to play both offense and defense for Holy Angels. Anderson grew up playing alongside quarterback Joe Heimbold, and he said he is not willing to end that partnership quite yet.
“We need to have that good combination, still,” Anderson said. “We will have that for one more year until we separate.”
Holy Angels is coming off a year in which it posted a 4-6 record. The Stars fell to Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the section title game.
“Last year was a really big rebuilding year,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of talented soon-to-be juniors and I think that was a really good year for them to get out and play varsity football and see what it was like.”Despite its lack of success last season, Holy Angels will look to have a big year in 2017.
“I think we really have a chance of going to state because we have been working really hard this summer,” Anderson said. “The seniors are stepping up and doing a great job leading.”
So far through summer workouts, Anderson likes what he has seen from his teammates.
“Me, Keontay [Shorter] and Joe were named captains, Keontay has done a good job showing the defensive backs and wide receivers how it’s done,” Anderson said. “Joe has taken control in the offensive huddle, Gerone [Hamilton] has taken control on the line and I have taken control with teaching the younger linebackers and running backs some stuff.”
Individually, Anderson said he has gained 10 pounds in muscle as he looks to have his best year yet.
“I started eating a little healthier, my dad helped me make some healthier choices,” Anderson said. “I work out at Holy Angles a lot and [Holy Angels head football coach Jim Gunderson] puts us through workouts that, if you take them seriously, can change your body to what you want it to be like.”
Without Gunderson by his side, Anderson doesn’t know if he would have been able to have opportunities to play at the next level.
“Coach Gunderson has been an outstanding guide throughout this whole process,” Anderson said. “He is helping Keontay get offers now, but the best thing he did for me was get me out in front of them to see me work out and move.”
Anderson knows no player can single-handedly lead a team to state, so he has been urging his teammates to trust one another.
“Football is a game of having a great team,” Anderson said. “If you don’t have a great team you won’t go far, and I think having a strong team with unity and close bonds is the best thing you could have.”
Anderson and his Holy Angels teammates will kick off the 2017 season against Hill-Murray at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, at Academy of Holy Angels.
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