Utah football: Anderson ready to be Utah's next big-play man
As a 10-year veteran of the NFL, Flipper Anderson built a reputation of being a big-play guy. He finished his career with 267 receptions for 5,357 yards and 28 touchdowns, averaging 20.1 yards per catch.
One of his most memorable performances came against the New Orleans Saints when as a member of the Los Angeles Rams he set an NFL record for most receiving yards and yards from scrimmage in a game, finishing with 336 yards on 15 receptions, averaging 22.4 yards a catch.
So, naturally, now that the Utes are searching for a big-play receiver, who are they asking to step up and fill the role?
Dres Anderson, of course. Like father, like son, the Utes hope Anderson, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound sophomore, can become the next big thing for Utah.
"The one thing we lacked in our offense on Thursday were explosive plays," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of the Utes' season-opening win over Northern Colorado. "We've got to make explosive plays and we hope [Dres] can do that for us as the season wears on."
It's asking a lot of a still-green player, to not only make the kind of plays ESPN loves but also the kind that made his father legendary first at UCLA, then in the pros.
But if Dres is feeling any pressure, his boyish face and constant grin are hiding his anxiety.
"That is the kind of guy I can be," said Anderson, who had four catches for 53 yards Thursday. "It's coming, most definitely."
Whittingham regards former Ute Steve Smith as the ideal big-play receiver. The evasive Smith averaged 20.6 yards a catch for the Utes, a number Anderson believes is within his reach.
"That is explosive speed, what every player dreams about," he said of Smith's average. "Every time you get the ball you have to get the most you can and it's why you have to be explosive on the outside."
Anderson's confidence is high, even if his stats aren't always.
A celebrated recruit when he signed with Utah, Anderson showed glimpses of his talent last year when he had 23 catches for 355 yards. However, he looked like a typical freshman at times, too. Some games he would be an easy target, such as BYU, when he had 81 yards receiving. But then in other games, such as Washington State, Colorado and Arizona, he was barely a presence on the field.
In those games his only reception was a 14-yarder against Colorado.
He had none against Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
Frustrating to Anderson was he fully expected to be a big-play guy for the Utes right away, but he found himself unprepared for the college game and admits now he relied on his instincts.
"I was just playing," he said of his freshman year. "I didn't have much knowledge of the game and I didn't know the defenses so I was just playing."
His father told him to keep working and his time would come.
"It will play itself out," Flipper Anderson said. "He has the quickness and the speed, he just needs to keep working in the weight room and learning the game. Even when he was a little boy he was aggressive with the ball and he'd attack. He loved to go after guys. He'll get there."
Anderson, an academic honorable mention, committed himself to studying his playbook and defenses as hard as his classes this summer and feels better prepared, even if he's still surprised at the amount of book work necessary.
"You have to put the time in, watch a lot of film and work hard," he said. "I spent a lot of time watching games and learning. I know a lot more now."
The knowledge is coming. The speed, that has always been there. Like father, like son, remember.
6-1, 185, Soph.
• Was second on the team with 23 catches and 355 yards in 2011. ... Had a season-high 81 yards against BYU. â¦ Runs a 4.4 in the 40. â¦ Pac-12 all-academic honorable mention. â¦ Majoring in communications.