Anthony Anderson says 'it's not about individuals' as he moves to wide receiver

Senior, Naz Oliver move to receiver

Anthony Anderson on his position change

Naz  Oliver

Naz Oliver

Anthony Anderson

Anthony Anderson

Derek Dooley explained it with one of his trademark analogies.

Anthony Anderson did it with a smile and a joke.

Anderson, the fifth-year senior who committed to Tennessee as a junior at Austin-East High School, moved from cornerback to wide receiver before Friday's practice. Though it's a move that effectively ends his chances of ever breaking into the secondary's starting rotation, Anderson embraced the move with a positive attitude and a strong dose of self-awareness.

"The guys look up to me just as a good guy on the team and a guy who works hard who is also a senior and a leader," Anderson said. "That's the big part of me moving over there, just to let them know it's not about individuals. It's about a team effort and everything else will take care of itself.

"Hopefully one day I'll be the greatest to ever play (wide receiver) — for one year."

Anderson wasn't without company when he swapped his orange, defensive practice jersey for a white one Friday. Redshirt sophomore Naz Oliver, who missed most of the 2010 season with a knee injury and was similarly bogged down on the depth chart, also is transitioning to wide receiver, as a variety of recent injuries has decimated the number of able bodies at the position.

Anderson, though, was provided with a slew of options before he made the switch. As one of the team's few seniors, he could have very well rejected Dooley's suggestion and stayed on defense.

"We're all selfish by nature. We're born selfish," Dooley said. "When a baby is hungry, he cries and gets mad because all he's thinking about is 'I need some milk.' When you take away a toy from a baby, he cries and gets mad because he's not thinking about sharing. He's thinking, 'I want my toy.'

"You have to beat out that self-absorbed trait that we are all born with. And Anthony has none of that. It's a real tribute to his character."

Anderson isn't entirely new to the position. In his senior year at Austin-East, he was an All-PrepXtra defensive back and wide receiver, reeling in 48 catches for 1,010 yards and 14 touchdowns.

That's one of the reasons why Anderson isn't just moving to be a space-filler for the likes of banged-up receivers Zach Rogers (triceps), Matt Milton (abdominal muscle) and DeAnthony Arnett (hamstring).

The other reason, Dooley said, is less tangible but, perhaps, more important.

"He brings a nice senior presence into that room," Dooley said. "We've got a young room in there. Our oldest guy is Zach, and he doesn't talk. The next-oldest guys are true sophomores. We've got a lot of youth in there. I think Anthony will help us.

"Great character, team football player, loves Tennessee."

Anderson has been a fixture on special teams for the past two seasons, and he appeared to have his best shot at legitimate playing time when he exited spring camp atop the depth chart as a co-starter with freshman Justin Coleman. An influx of young talent from UT's 2011 signing class, though, quickly pushed Anderson to the back of the pile as camp progressed.

Though Coleman is one of the players who helped push him out of the mix at cornerback, Anderson said he held no hard feelings. Instead, Anderson said he worked side-by-side with the freshman, taking time to pass on some veteran advice whenever the opportunity presented itself.

"I tell him every day, 'Don't take his opportunity for granted,' " Anderson said. "It can easily be taken away from an injury or if they see somebody else moving up the depth chart."

Anderson said he's started doing the same with the underclassmen who make up the bulk of UT's receiving corps. Projected starters Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers have already heard Anderson say he didn't switch positions just to "be behind you."

Anderson also is one of two players left standing in the competition at punt returner. Injuries to freshmen Tom Smith and Devrin Young have left Anderson, who finished 2010 at the position, and freshman running back Marlin Lane as the remaining contenders with two weeks remaining until the season opener.

"I really want it bad," Anderson said. "I'm still going to work hard at it, every position they have my name listed at, because you never know when I'll be back there.

"I really want the position but it's whatever coach wants."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 23

ncvol17 writes:

I hope he gets his chance and excels. A true Vol w/ a team attitude. well done

Mtnbiker writes:

Anthony Anderson is a great VOL...all heart and team player. Hope he can get a chance to shine.

dvhill100 writes:

Those are the kind of players coaches love to coach.

Bigger_Al writes:

A for Attitude, Anthony Anderson. (Was that alliteration, or onomatopoeia? Maybe the trolls can help me out...)

jawga writes:

In other words CDD's not going let AA cut into the new 3* DB's playing time.

Vol43 writes:

I'm kinda new to this web site, but I was told by some good ole UT fans that all I had to do to have some fun was mention a guy's name. Oh I know, it was Fulmer and that tons of traffic would result. Problem is, I gotta go to bed, so I'll check again in the morning. Meanwhile....GO.....VOLS...V...O...L....S

15 days until the Dooley train leaves the station. And I want on it! YeeeHaaah!

hamneggs writes:

I'm afraid Tennessee's inexperience at reciever will compound their inexperience with the quarterback. I hope we can run the ball.

Vol43 writes:

in response to hamneggs:

I'm afraid Tennessee's inexperience at reciever will compound their inexperience with the quarterback. I hope we can run the ball.

Afraid? Justin Hunter and DaDick Rodgers with a second year quarterback who lights it up? I'm not the least bit afraid, but that's just me.

Vol43 writes:

That would be Da'Rick Rogers. Sorry about that.

hamneggs writes:

Eric Ainge was a second year once...

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Hey Georgia troll..Not all of our DB's are 3*s..We have some 4*s mixed in and a 5*...So your statement is incorrect.

Smokey says we have some talent in the secondary..

CoverOrange writes:

in response to hamneggs:

Eric Ainge was a second year once...

That's your argument? Weak.

hamneggs writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

That's your argument? Weak.

Look at his stats from spring to present and don't give me the last 4 reg season games last year against memphis, mississippi, vandy and ky.

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to hamneggs:

Look at his stats from spring to present and don't give me the last 4 reg season games last year against memphis, mississippi, vandy and ky.

I am fan and it doesn't make you a troll to be concerned. A troll misrepresents facts and hammers Dooley for no reason. But, it is quite fair to question the passing game. Bray has big play potential, but in nothing we have seen, heard, or read is there any evidence that he has made a big step forward. And, while I never considered Moore/Jones/Stocker in the same category as Whitten, Kent, Price, Harper, McGhee, or Pickens, they did each demonstrate clutch play potential. I have yet to see that happen with Bray to Rogers/Hunter. I am not talking about TD's. I am talking about 3rd Downs.

All I read about the receivers is that they have yet to take the "game" or "preparation" seriously. Everything is about how they have progressed slower than expected, need to work harder, move faster, focus on proper route-running, or catch the dang ball. And, all I have seen is Bray throwing it up for grabs.

Now, that does not mean Dooley isn't poor mouthing in a misinformation campaign. But, NEVER discount experienced leadership. There is no doubt our receivers have a great deal of physical talent. But, there is more to it than that.

I won't bash our passing game, but other than recruiting information, we have not been given ANY reason to get excited. I am hopeful, but the concerns are legit. I am hoping we tweak it out against Montana, because so far, most of the good press is about the defense. I admit it sounds fishy that Dooley is poor-mouthing the areas where we were supposed to be strong and praising the area (lineback) where we were supposed to suck.

hamneggs writes:

in response to Tweetdriver63:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good point, I hope he proves me wrong. I'm just an arm chair q-back with the f-ball knowledge of most folks on this site. Please forgive me.............

msinva writes:

Thanks for your committment guys. Trust me this will pay many dividends in your future. Just as I commented when Justin Hunter signed, I love to see those big smiles on these guys photos.

gatorhator4eva writes:

these guys understand the tradition of vol football. dooley is likely filling there heads up and there loving it. i would say these vols know how many people are underestimating them are gonna come out and show people what they got. will it be enough? well see, but i think they will def come out hungry, they got the tools but can they work togeather? i hope so

fbmf624#277664 writes:

this year i want to put out a challange to all vols fans.support our vols no more bad stuff about the. Once again the players read this site and follow everything the fans are saying about them. If they mess up find something good to say instead of "they blew it". Help keep our boys motivated to win by us the 12th man showing support.We have a great team and coaches unlike the sorry a2# gators who leave thier team when they lose we are orange and proud to be.Let the playes know that and they will suprise you. Always remember you were born orange, you bleed orange, and you die orange. Like the american flage, our orange color dont run. And who cares about grammer as long as you get the point

RashaadSalabeb writes:

in response to fbmf624#277664:

this year i want to put out a challange to all vols fans.support our vols no more bad stuff about the. Once again the players read this site and follow everything the fans are saying about them. If they mess up find something good to say instead of "they blew it". Help keep our boys motivated to win by us the 12th man showing support.We have a great team and coaches unlike the sorry a2# gators who leave thier team when they lose we are orange and proud to be.Let the playes know that and they will suprise you. Always remember you were born orange, you bleed orange, and you die orange. Like the american flage, our orange color dont run. And who cares about grammer as long as you get the point

I agree 100%! I support the Vols all the way. We have a great coaching staff and alot of great young men on the team. This will be a pretty good year and the next several years even better. I firmly believe this will be an exciting team to watch. With alot of nagging injuries....these guys are obviously doing some serious hitting in practice. Any players or coaches reading along....There are 1,000,000 plus Vol Fans nation wide supporting you guys! The people that don't....well they don't matter anyway. As Lynyrd Skynryd used to say....a "Tennessee Man" don't them around anyhow!

Go Vols! It's all about the Orange!

Go4Two writes:

Starting to feel a little better about the orange. Gators may come apart like cheap lawn furniture this year. GOVOLS

voloffaith writes:

in response to hamneggs:

I'm afraid Tennessee's inexperience at reciever will compound their inexperience with the quarterback. I hope we can run the ball.

I got zapped once on here when forgetting(maybe) i b4 e except after c. Receiver knocks out reciever per the zappers grammar. There now a lil ham with the eggs....scrambled.

hamneggs writes:

in response to voloffaith:

I got zapped once on here when forgetting(maybe) i b4 e except after c. Receiver knocks out reciever per the zappers grammar. There now a lil ham with the eggs....scrambled.

I believe the real trolls are the ones who stick their heads in the sand. By a fan discussing concerns is not an act of treason to vol nation. Secondly, i believe players are secure in their own abilities than to take any post on this site seriously. If they do than shame on them for reading the remarks of a bunch of wannabees. Except for me of course.....

BigBadVol writes:

My new favorite Vol!

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