Erik Anderson’s goals for his recently planned college football career start simple – stay on the field.
The St. Charles East senior, who recently selected NAIA program Olivet Nazarene, craves a full season of relative health, which eluded him throughout his three-year run on East’s varsity team.
“That would be awesome,” Anderson said. “That’s probably one of my top goals. I’ve been hoping for it every year after sophomore year that I could just have a season I could play every game, so I’m looking forward to hopefully getting stronger, and I’ll do some injury prevention stuff my first year, and see if I can stay healthy.”
The 6-foot, 200-pound Anderson was a running back at East but expects to be used primarily at H-back at Olivet Nazarene, located in Bourbonnais.
“I wouldn’t always be taking as big of a pounding there, which kind of excited me, and made it a better offer,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s latest injury – which limited his production as a senior – required labrum surgery in December. He’s undergoing physical therapy and hopes to return for a chunk of his senior baseball season.
Partially because of his injury history, Anderson considered attending Alabama or Furman (S.C.) and not playing football, but the financial deal offered by Olivet Nazarene and the sales pitch from the Tigers’ coaching staff convinced him to commit earlier this month.
“It sounds like a program on the upswing,” Anderson said. “They’re doing a little bit better now, and because the Bears have summer training there, they get a lot of money to spend on the football program. They just got a new weight room, and I think they’re getting a new field either this year or the next few years, so it’s kind of exciting.”
Giving up athletics would have been difficult for Anderson, who has ample sports history in his family.
Anderson’s father, Dave, played college football at Bethel University (Minn.), and his maternal grandfather, the late John Michaelson, was a longtime radio producer with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Anderson remembers meeting Randy Johnson and other Major League Baseball luminaries as a boy through his grandfather’s connections.
Playing college baseball was a consideration for a while, but at this point, he’d settle for salvaging some of his senior season for the Saints. Pending the progress of his recovery, he’d like to play outfield, but might have to settle for a designated player or pinch-hitter role.
“My mom loves baseball and my dad loves football,” Anderson said. “They’re always telling me I should play one or the other they like, but after sophomore year I started to lean toward football just because it’s an awesome sport, and I love it. Baseball, it wasn’t as exciting for me anymore, but I’m still really looking forward to playing my last year this season.”
Continuing with baseball likely would have been easier on his body but Anderson isn’t ready to resign himself to the notion that he’s injury-prone – or at least that it has to be that way going forward.
“I have those doubts, and it’s disappointing, but I do feel they are kind of unlucky [injuries],” Anderson said. “They’ve always been kind of freak injuries, like not even being hit, but when I fall down, I fall a weird way. I just look at it like it’s unlucky, but I’ll definitely be doing a lot of work this summer to strengthen my shoulder so it’s not a problem in college.”
• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached ay 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.