WVC football: Anderson hoping to alter perception of Yellow Jackets
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jon Anderson stood in the empty living room of his home near Scott Depot, two days before he reveals his first football recruiting class at West Virginia State University.
Furniture was being moved in on Monday as he continued to adjust to life as a college football coach in the Mountain State. His wife Amanda, and sons Trevor, 8, and Tyce, 6, are finally joining him.
It might sound like a moment to breathe for the first-time head coach, but it's really not.
As the letters of intent start arriving via fax on Wednesday - National Signing Day - Anderson's work won't be done during the first two months of his tenure as West Virginia State's new head football coach.
However, it'll be time to celebrate, shake hands and pat each other on the back.
"We've been emphasizing to our young people that this first class for us is going to set the tone," Anderson said. "This class is going to change the perception. You only get one chance to sign your first class. That's the mentality we have."
Anderson and his coaching staff of five full-time assistants have lived in a dorm at the Institute campus since being hired in mid-December.
Not long after being announced as coach, Anderson and his coaches - offensive coordinator Scott Courter; co-defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator Nick Benedetto; defensive line coach and special teams coordinator Isaiah Jackson; offensive line coach Michael Krysl; and wide receivers coach Derrick Sherman - wasted no time in making inroads.
"It's been an absolute whirlwind," said Anderson, who was the defensive coordinator at the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) the final three of his 11 years as an assistant at the school. "I think back in middle December when I had a few of my staff members here. We put a West Virginia map on the staff table to find out where we were and where we were going.
"We're striving to build relationships with the high school coaches. We canvassed the entire state before Christmas with our staff to introduce ourselves and our school as a viable place for state guys. For the most part, the high school coaches understand how we're going to do things."
Anderson is just 36 years old and Benedetto, whom he recruited to Sioux Falls and will work on the defensive side with him, just turned 27.
What they hope to accomplish is bring success to the State football program, something it has experienced little of during the last three-plus decades.
In fact, State has had just six winning seasons since 1980, including two under Earl Monroe, who guided the Yellow Jackets from 2006-12.
Benedetto said he finds many positives in being a part of a younger coaching staff when it comes to recruiting.
"I think we connect well with kids," he said. "We're not that much older, but we're old enough to make sure they are better men when they leave West Virginia State. I always try to learn something new every day.
"I heard a long time ago when you start out as a GA (graduate assistant), you have two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly."
That's something the staff at State has been doing a lot of - keeping its ears to the ground as a new era begins in Institute and Anderson and his coaches get used to making West Virginia their home.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837.