Watch out for No. 36
Anthony Anderson

Posted Apr 8, 2008

Number 36 appears to be gearing up for a comeback.

That's the jersey number Roshaun Fellows wore en route to Freshman All-America honors as a Tennessee defensive back in 2004. Fellows' fame was fleeting, however. He lost his starting job in 2005, missed 2006 due to an injured abdominal muscle, then was dismissed from the team in the spring of 2007.

With Fellows gone, No. 36 last August went to freshman Anthony Anderson, who promptly sat out the '07 season as a redshirt. After two full seasons of inactivity, jersey No. 36 could be back in action this fall. Anderson is making a determined bid for a backup job at safety this spring.

Thirty minutes into last Saturday's full-scale scrimmage, the lanky freshman smelled out a safety-valve pass to fullback Austin Johnson. Arriving just as the ball did, the 6-1, 180-pound Anderson knocked the 6-3, 240-pound Johnson to the turf, resulting in a six-yard loss.

Three plays later, Anderson was at it again. Correctly reading a quick hitch, he jumped the route, cut inside intended receiver Gerald Jones and laid out to make a brilliant diving interception of a B. J. Coleman pass. The play – easily the most spectacular of the first two scrimmages – prompted defensive coordinator John Chavis to break into an exaggerated strut along the sidelines.

A couple of big plays in a spring scrimmage doesn't mean Anderson has arrived, of course, but it at least suggests he's on the right path.

“He's growing,” Chavis said. “The more he learns what to do, the better player he's going to be. He has the talent. It takes time but he's certainly making strides in the right direction.”

Larry Slade echoed those sentiments. Tennessee's veteran secondary coach believes that once Anderson's familiarity with the scheme matches his athleticism, he'll be ready to play at the Southeastern Conference level.

“It's great to see him take a step forward,” Slade said. “He certainly has the ability. He still has a long way to go but it's great to see him go out and make plays ... be in the places he should be.”

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