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Will Anderson Jr. Details Decision to Come to Alabama, Upbringing as Georgia Fan

A product of the state of Georgia, Anderson will have to face what was his favorite team growing up in the Bulldogs.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It's hard to believe that not too long ago, Will Anderson Jr. was having to make a decision regarding where he wanted to play college football.

Now known as a proficient outside linebacker for Alabama and one of the top defensive players in the entire country, it's hard to picture Anderson playing anywhere else. That being said, having grown up in the state of Georgia, Anderson grew up a Bulldogs fans.

"Yeah I did grow up a Georgia fan," Anderson said on Monday. "I got recruited by them a little bit. I didn't get too much attention from them, but it all worked out well. I'm here at Alabama and I love it here. It's been great so far."

Crimson Tide fans are undoubtedly grateful that Anderson instead opted to attend Alabama. Starting as a true freshman in 2020, Anderson has been a heavy contributor for the success of his team's defense. Across the country, he is widely recognized as not just an impact player, but an outside linebacker that opponents need to form an entire plan around.

Anderson was a top-10 recruit in the state of Georgia. Hailing from Dutchtown High School in Hampton, Ga., Anderson received offers from over 40 schools, including LSU, Tennessee, Auburn and, of course, Alabama.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban recalled what he and his recruiting staff saw in Anderson when they were evaluating him in high school.

“We loved Will Anderson in high school," Saban said. "He had great size. You could see the initial quickness, explosive power. We didn’t know for sure if he’d end up being a stand-up player or end up playing down. He kind of does both for us now and does both very well. He’s certainly been everything that we thought he would be, and I think that’s because of the kind of person he is, the kind of competitive character he has, the leadership qualities that he has. The guy’s always trying to get better.”

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Anderson never received an offer from Georgia. However, with so many others to choose from on his plate, Anderson still wanted to go somewhere he could compete and be with players that shared his competitive mindset.

It was his recruiting visit in 2019 that ultimately decided that Tuscaloosa was where he wanted to go play football.

"What stood out about Alabama is the group of men that's here at the facility," Anderson said. "In high school I always told myself that I wanted to surround myself by people that have the same mentality as me — same expectations, same standards — and when you come to a place like Alabama, everybody in the locker room has that same expectation for themselves, the same mentality and the competitiveness here. 

"To be at Alabama, you have to be a very good competitor and you have to be able to compete every day even when you don't feel like competing. I think it's a mindset. So most definitely it's a different kind of mindset when you come to Alabama and I think that that's the biggest thing for me when I was being recruited. That's what I wanted to come here was because of the mindset and because of the men that was going to be here to help me along the way and help me get to where I want to be at."

Anderson and his Alabama teammates are now preparing to head back to his home state to face Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. In last week's Iron Bowl win, Anderson totaled seven tackles, including three for a loss with a sack. Anderson's efforts earned him the title of SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week, and he hopes to carry that momentum with him to Atlanta for the SEC title game.

Anderson and Alabama will be facing a very tough opponent in Georgia, but he is still excited to make the trip back to his home and play the game in front of his family.

"It's always exciting to go back home," Anderson said. "My family get to come see because of course I'm from Georgia so it's always good to go back home. So that's exciting about that."