Provo • Last season, nearly a year after being sidelined with a shoulder injury and undergoing surgery, Zayne Anderson found himself in the same position once again. In the 2019 season opener against Utah, his shoulder popped out once more — requiring a second surgery.
After two injury-filled seasons in which he only played a total of six games, Anderson has one more chance at finishing out his collegiate career at BYU on the field. And he’s hoping to make the best of it, regardless of what position he plays.
“It was rough and, mentally, I'm in a really good place right now,” Anderson said. “After a few injuries you get down on yourself, but I'm really confident in my skills and I know what I can do on the field. I just want to be able to prove that and show that I'm healthy.”
So far through the first week of spring practice, the senior has made the move from linebacker to cornerback, but could also play some safety this fall.
Anderson has yet to fully submerge himself in his new position just yet, though. The Stansbury Park native is, in fact, still in recovery mode from his latest surgery, which has a recovery period of six months. Anderson has two more weeks until he's able to be fully cleared.
While Anderson hasn't been able to work out his upper body, he's made sure to not skip leg day in the weight room. However, the lack of working out has contributed to his weight loss. Since last season, Anderson has dropped 22 pounds.
Once he gets the go-ahead, though, Anderson hopes to start putting some of that weight back on. Ideally, about 10 pounds.
As far as the position change, Anderson has never played corner, but does have some experience at defensive back and safety. For head coach Kalani Sitake, the decision to move Anderson into a different position is solely about trying to get the best 11 players on the field.
“And I think, with as much experience as he's had, I think it's a good risk to take, just to be able to get a different look,” Sitake said. “With the amount of injuries we had to deal with in the past, I think you have to kind of try different guys at different places, just so you know that you can. Obviously, we don't want any of our guys getting hurt, but I think that's part of the game.”
Regardless of the position he plays, assistant coach Ed Lamb is excited to have Anderson back in the fold and is ready to see how he can continue to help the team.
“He brings a lot of speed and tenacity to our defense and special teams, and obviously that's something that we've missed without him,” Lamb said. “But also, the older guys get the more leadership they bring and the more willing they are to step forward and talk to other players about how important this experience is. And we hope to get that kind of leadership out of him, too.”
While having dealt with shoulder injuries the last two seasons, Anderson said it didn't take as large of a mental toll on him as some would have expected. But when dealing with consecutive injuries like that, he did start questioning his ability to play.
Luckily, his parents helped out a lot and Anderson eventually started watching old film of himself and remembered that he can play — and is actually a pretty good player. The positivity spilled over onto his preparation and rehab, and helped build up his confidence again.
Because Anderson redshirted the 2018 season, there was a chance he wouldn't be able to salvage the 2019 season. Fortunately for him, his appeal was granted and Anderson will get another chance to play his final season.
With his confidence built back up and shoulder almost ready to go, Anderson said he's just grateful to be part of spring practice right now.
“I’m happy to be here and just watching and learning,” Anderson said. “It really is amazing, this weather is beautiful. So, I’m just happy to be out here. I’m learning a lot and, even though I’m not playing … I’m just happy to be here.”