JUCO Corner And Last Chance U Star Picks Weber State Over PAC-12
Updated: Feb 16
(Photo provided by LJ Anderson)
NAME: LJ Anderson
PREVIOUS SCHOOL: Laney Junior College
POSITION: Defensive Back
TOP SCHOOLS: Signed with Weber State (Other interested schools: Arizona, Charlotte, Hawaii)
There are so many different perspectives on the recruiting experience for high school football players. Some love the process, others loathe it. It can be thrilling, disappointing, or some combination of those emotions wrapped into one.
For L.J. Anderson, a former three-star defensive back out of Oakland, California, he’s experienced nearly every aspect of that journey, and he’s heard almost every recruiting pitch that big-time college football players typically come across.
Coming out of high school, Anderson – a 6’1”, 175 pound versatile defensive back – originally committed to Colorado State University, but he wanted to stay close to home. When the San Jose State Spartans offered him a scholarship, he jumped at the opportunity to play for a local school and stay close to The Town. He was also considering Montana State, Northern Colorado, Utah State and UTEP.
While in San Jose, Anderson found out what it takes to be a Division One football player and how difficult the grind can be. “I learned about the business aspect more than just the football part of it,” Anderson told Weber State Weekly. “Everybody at this level is just as good as you. You have to do all the extra things to stand out. You have to do the extra cardio, you have to eat the extra food to keep weight.”
After redshirting during his year with the Spartans, Anderson took what he learned and decided to head back to Oakland and play for Laney Junior College.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “I was a three-star and I had a lot of offers but I wasn’t thinking about JUCO. [The first team] who called me when I left San Jose was Laney, and they told me they want me to be on the team.”
In his time at Laney, he had to come to some hard realizations, too.
“They were real with me. They told me what I needed to work on academically and physically. They had a plan and we executed it. I give all the credit to my coaches.”
As an Eagle, Anderson had to grind on and off the field to make ends meet. Laney doesn’t have dormitories on campus, and the off-campus housing prices are as high as the hopes of Laney’s football players. While he was on the team and in school, Anderson had to unload trucks and restock shelves at the local Home Depot.
The struggles and dreams of Laney’s football players can be seen on the most recent season of Netflix’s “Last Chance U,” a series that’s devoted to exhibiting the work and play of junior college football teams. Anderson, who finished the season with 32 tackles, one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown and three interceptions, did receive some airtime in the show. “I was making plays, so they had to put the camera on me,” Anderson stated. “I was just trying to handle my business, and I knew I was going to be on the show one way or another.”
After his season playing for Oakland legend Coach Beam, Anderson, who will be a Sophomore in the 2021 season, knew it was the right time for him to start looking to get back into Division One football.
The playmaker received lots of contact from schools across the country. The programs who were giving him the most attention were Arizona, Charlotte, Hawaii and Weber State.
With the early signing period approaching, Anderson didn’t want to wait to make his move, and he had whittled his options down to Arizona and Weber State.
With COVID-19 restrictions in the recruiting process, Anderson unfortunately wasn’t able to visit any schools to which he had been talking. Kevin Sumlin, who was the head coach at Arizona when the Tucson school originally reached out to Anderson, was also relieved of his duties, creating an uncertainty surrounding where Anderson would fit in with the PAC-12 university.
Enter Jay Hill and Weber State.
Anderson, whose brother, Maxwell, starred at cornerback for Weber State in the 2019 season, had already been to Ogden and on campus at Weber State. “I was familiar with Weber and I was comfortable with the area,” the playmaker would go on to say. “They didn’t have to sell me or do much because I was already up to date with it.”
Anderson had the chance to attend Weber State’s homecoming game last season, a 29-14 victory against Southern Utah, and fell in love with what he saw. “I liked the atmosphere and the fans. I’m not sure if it was because it was homecoming, but it felt like I’d already been here.”
In addition to loving the campus, Coach Hill, Anderson’s primary recruiter, was telling Anderson all the right things.
“They were really shipping the idea of me and Max being the focal points of the defense… They want me and Max on the same side on defense. Who wouldn’t want to play with their brother?”
There’s more to the equation than simply playing with his brother, however. Anderson went on to tell us, “(Coach Hill and I) were watching film from games from last year. We were talking formations and what coverage they were in. I look for that in a coach... Coach Hill is really good at pointing things out in film... It’s really rare to get on the phone and talk film with a coach and Coach Hill was really good at that. No coaches do that; that was good for me and I appreciated that a lot.”
Anderson believes he can fit in as a Free Safety in Hill’s dominating defenses. The Wildcats really wanted to add some extra depth to their secondary in hopes that they’ll be playing around 25 games in the 2021 calendar year, and believe they have found someone who can come in and make an impact in Anderson.
Off the football field, Anderson considers himself to be a movie buff and loves watching action and military movies. His favorite movie is “Paid in Full.”
Anderson has already enrolled in classes at WSU and will be eligible for the 2021 spring football season. He’ll be wearing jersey number 32.