Position switch seems to suit USM's Anderson

Position switch seems to suit USM's Anderson

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - When Steven Anderson arrived as a freshman at the University of Southern Mississippi last summer, he looked quite the imposing figure at quarterback.

Saturday morning during the Golden Eagles first scrimmage of spring football, Anderson made an even larger impression at running back.

Listed at 6 feet, 4 inches and 242 pounds, Anderson rumbled like the proverbial bull in a china shop, at times, leaving would-be tacklers in his wake, while at others, showing soft hands and balance coming out of the backfield as an option in the passing game.

It's a brave new world for the former run-pass quarterback from Live Oak, Fla., who admitted that he wasn't quite sure what to make of his new role when the switch was first suggested by USM's coaches.

"At first, I didn't really like it," Anderson said after the 2-hour plus session at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

"But I learned to like it, and I love it now. At first, I was nervous about it, but now I love it."

The Golden Eagles wrapped up the first week of their spring drills, and while three practices offers only a small sample size, Anderson could provide a top-shelf addition to a position, that if nothing else, was craving for depth after the departure of three-year starter Ito Smith and injury concerns with senior George Payne and red-shirt freshman Darius Maberry.

But, after three practices, USM coach Jay Hopson said he has liked what he's seen from the big-bodied, athletic Anderson.

"Steven's a guy that I think is going to be a great player here," Hopson said. "He's a talented kid. You have to remember, not only is he a hard runner, he was a quarterback last year. He's a talented guy. He can catch, he can run. We have big plans for him."

Hopson said having depth at running back is a necessity in today's game.

"One thing we do have is really good depth at that tailback position," Hopson said. "I think it's always important to have three (players) there.

"Those guys just tend get too beat up over the course of the year."

Seniors Tez Parks and T'Rod Daniels, who played behind Smith last season, remain atop the depth chart. Payne, another senior, is returning from a hip injury that cost him the 2017 season, while Maberry went down with a knee injury during preparations for this past December's Walk-On's Independence Bowl and is not expected to be back until August at the earliest.

"You have a little bit of that today," Hopson said. "Last year, we had a little bit of that even last year with Ito. Ito had a great year, but you had Tez and you had T'Rod and they're still rotating.

"You see that in everybody in college. You don't ever see hardly one running back sitting in there. Those guys are running, they're getting hit. There's probably no position that takes the pounding that running backs take."

And there may be nobody on USM's team better-suited to dish out some pounding than Anderson.

"It's not quarterback, but it's not too far off," Anderson said. "You've still got the ball in your hand, so it's more a mental thing."

USM will continue with spring drills next week, with practices scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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