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Alabama’s “Terminator” Will Anderson focused on becoming a vocal leader as a sophomore

Wil Anderson coming out his stance versus Ohio State in 2020 CFP title game
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics/CFP Media Portal

He was one of the critical recruits that Alabama fans wanted in the Crimson Tide’s 2020 signing class.

Regardless of not having a spring to learn the defense, William Anderson showed the Southeastern Conference why he was regarded as a five-star from the state of Georgia. He grabbed the starting role of outside (jack) linebacker from Ben Davis and proceeded to have an excellent freshman year. Anderson received Defensive Player of the Week honors four times from the coaching staff in Alabama meetings versus Mississippi State, LSU, Florida, and Notre Dame. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder finished with 52 total tackles, ranking seventh on the roster. He finished third in the SEC for both sacks (seven) and tackles for loss (10.5).

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Anderson led Alabama with eight quarterback pressures in 13 games. He also recorded one forced fumble and one blocked field goal against the Fighting Irish in the Rose Bowl. Although he affected the opponent’s passing game in the Tide’s first seven matchups, things started to click for Anderson versus Auburn. His first career sack came in the Iron Bowl, and his numbers grew from there. He collected two sacks apiece against Arkansas, LSU, and Florida, as he became a focal point of Alabama’s pass rush.

Anderson earned Freshman All-SEC and Freshman All-American honors. He was selected as the Shaun Alexander National Freshman of the Year by the Football Writers Association of American. Despite the accolades, the sophomore is prepared to do more in the fall. Anderson spoke to reporters via Zoom on Thursday for the first time and handled the questions like a pro.

He said his confidence began to click for him during the latter portion of 2020.

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“I always knew my job, but I was trying to play it safe,” Anderson said about his freshman season. “When I took the game for what it was and grew into myself, my confidence grew and that’s what helped me.”

Christopher Allen, a senior, was one of the players who guided Anderson.

The young pass rusher spoke on how Allen stayed after practice to work with him. Anderson said Allen trained him on different moves and helped him learn the playbook. He also said Allen was effective in communicating with him on the field.

As someone took him under its wings, Anderson wants to be a leader too.

“I’m trying to be more vocal,” he said. “I kind of lead through my actions sometimes, but I want to step up.”

He will have a chance to do that, especially with Drew Sanders and King Mwikuta under him. Anderson will also be teaching others in the outside linebacker room to be successful. He may have brought sadness to Arnold Schwarzenegger in never watching The Terminator and its sequels; however, he has embraced the nickname given to him by Crimson Tide fans. He called it a ‘great feeling’ to be referred to as Alabama’s “Terminator,” but Anderson is not buying into all the hype. The humble edge rusher is just excited to have a spring to learn the whole defense. He is benefiting a lot from practice, and the experience will make him better.

When he was asked who would perform better between the offense and defense in Alabama’s first scrimmage, he laughed and said ‘we shall see.’ Anderson has the potential to rewrite the school’s record book for sacks, and fans are anticipating big things.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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