TideIllustrated – Will Anderson’s Alabama teammates marvel at his ‘Heisman’ exploits

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Heisman moments don’t happen against Louisiana-Monroe. But when it comes to celebrating Will Anderson Jr.’s first touchdown in an Alabama uniform, his fellow Crimson Tide teammates aren’t afraid to stir up a little hype.

Just ask cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry, who started his assessment of the reigning Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner with one word.

“Heisman,” McKinstry said, shaking his head. ‘What can’t he do, man? I mean, I’ve seen it all.”

McKinstry thought that was the case en route to Alabama’s game against ULM on Saturday. Last season saw sophomore Anderson lead the nation with 33.5 tackles for a loss and 17.5 sacks over 15 games, bringing together the most dominant campaign by a Crimson Tide defender since Derrick Thomas’ record-breaking campaign of 1988.

Of course, Anderson had another trick up his sleeve on Saturday as he recorded his first interception of his career, collecting a bobbled pass on the ULM 25-yard line before racing to the end zone for a score.

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“Actually, this is the first time I’ve seen him catch an interception,” said McKinstry, who now has as many interceptions in his career as Anderson. “We are just so proud of him. He brings so much energy to the team.”

Anderson’s score came when ULM quarterback Chandler Rogers was pressured by the defending defender Malachi Moore on the right. Wanting to get the ball off quickly, the quarterback fired a pass that bounced off the hands of retreating Andrew Henry. From there, Anderson jumped up to grab the ball before sliding down the right sideline. Rogers gave chase, but a simple stiff arm from Anderson around the 15-yard line allowed the 6-foot-4, 243-pound edge rusher to easily push the quarterback aside.

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After the game, Anderson was not made available by Alabama to discuss his exploits. However, Mike linebacker Henry To’oTo’o did his best to summarize both the game and Anderson’s reaction from his own point of view on the field.

“He’s probably surprised he caught it,” To’oTo’o said, laughing. ‘I’m not going to lie. He obviously had a bit of a stiff arm, and then he just looked at it when they put the highlights on the board. He said, “Man, I can’t believe I did that.”

Game before his touchdown return, Anderson picked up a sack, knocking down Rogers for a 3-yard loss on 1st-and-10. The edge rusher finished Saturday’s game with five total stops, including 1.5 for a loss, matching his Pick 6.

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Through three games, Anderson has 15 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, with a few sacks. While not bad, he’ll need to pick up the pace if he’s to match last year’s production, finishing fifth in the Heisman voting.

According to VegasInsider, Anderson currently has the fifth best Heisman odds in the nation at +2200. Saturday’s score will help improve that, as it brought the linebacker back into the conversation of the prize after a penalty-ridden game against Texas.

At least it gave him and his teammates something to laugh about.

“Absolutely proud of him,” To’oTo’o said, “and he was happy with it.”