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Falcons EXCLUSIVE: What's Atlanta Getting in 'Ultimate Competitor' Troy Andersen?

What makes Falcons second round draft choice Troy Andersen special?

By this point, everyone knows the basics of Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen: a highly versatile college player who’s ridiculously athletic and extremely productive. 

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However, to really understand what the Atlanta Falcons are getting with the player whom they used the No. 58 overall selection on, you have to talk with people who had access to him on a daily basis.

Freddie Banks was Montana State’s defensive coordinator for Andersen’s final season. Upon arrival in Bozeman, Montana, Banks was quickly made aware of the 6-3, 242-pound Andersen.

“Everyone was telling me how fast he was,” Banks told Falcon Report. “In fact, (linebackers) Coach (Bobby) Daly would joke all the time that he’s the fastest person on the team, and we had some pretty fast guys.”

Banks watched Andersen on film, and knew he had a talented player, but ultimately had no idea how special Andersen truly was. “I had seen film of him, but once I saw him run in-person, I couldn’t believe he was that big moving that fast,” Banks said. “He’s like the size of a horse and can run as fast as a horse.”

After that, Banks joked that there was only one thing left to do: “put some more LB blitzes in.” Andersen became well-acquainted with the backfield, racking up two sacks and 14 tackles-for-loss in 2021.

Beyond the stats, frame, and speed, there’s another side of Andersen that fans have no idea about. His football intelligence is elite, as evidenced by his ability to play running back, quarterback, and linebacker at an extremely high level. 

In high school, he was a four-time Academic All-State honoree and class valedictorian. In college, Anderson was a nine-time member of the Dean’s List, three-time member of the President’s List, and a CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American.

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According to Banks, it’s these attributes that people will remember about Andersen.

“In 15 years, I’d bet people will forget how freakishly athletic he is because all his other intangibles will overshadow his athletic ability. He will be known as extremely smart, extremely tough, and he’s the ultimate competitor. I have never seen him take a play off in practice or a game.”

One of the biggest questions surrounding players who come from non-FBS schools is how they’ll react when they can no longer rely on being outright bigger, faster, and stronger than their competition. Especially in the NFL, preparation and a willingness to work is vital to success. Andersen should have no such problem.

“(Andersen was) literally always in the meeting room with his linebackers coach,” Banks stated. “He gets it in every way. It sounds unbelievable, but … the dude does everything right.”

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The Falcons are getting an elite athlete with Anderson. From the moment he was drafted, that was the one thing everyone pointed to. However, there’s so much more to Troy Andersen.

There’s the Dean’s List student. There’s the Beavertown County High School class valedictorian who graduated with a 4.0 GPA despite playing sports year-round. There’s the guy who volunteers at local school districts and coaches youth and high school football camps during the summer. There’s the leader for Team Impact, where he worked with a local child suffering from cancer.

He’s a special athlete, special football player, and, most importantly, a special human being.

“I got to be around Troy for only one year, (but) I’ll be telling Troy Andersen stories for the next 30 years.”