Marshall football: Newcomer tutored by former Herd QB
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Kevin Anderson knew about Marshall football before he ever set foot on campus, even before a single Thundering Herd coach visited to recruit him.
Since the summer before his freshman year, the former Boca Raton (Fla.) quarterback has been tutored by one of the Herd's all-time best.
Eric Kresser, who helped guide Marshall to the 1996 NCAA Division I-AA title, has worked with Anderson since his middle school days. It was Kresser who suggested that Anderson follow his current path, enrolling early at Marshall to take advantage of spring practice.
Anderson will officially join the Herd today when he signs his letter of intent and become part of Marshall's 2013 recruiting class. (See updates on signing day, including video of the signees.)
But he officially joined the ranks of the student body at the start of the spring semester, a move both he and Kresser feel will pay off in the future.
"It really wasn't hard to settle in," Anderson said. "I got acclimated to the campus pretty quick. I started taking classes the third day I was here. It's been a really smooth transition."
It's a transition he had prepared for before he took one snap at Boca Raton High, when Kresser talked with Anderson and his parents about walking into the guidance counselor's office and asking what he needed to do to graduate from high school by December 2012.
Kresser remembered what it was like when he first stepped on the University of Florida's campus in the same recruiting class as future Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel.
Kresser said that, in hindsight, enrolling early would have been a major boost to his chances with the Gators.
"When I went to Florida, it was a shock to the system and I had to play catch-up," Kresser said. "It took me a whole spring just to learn what I was doing, but unfortunately, we already had a whole season pass by."
A later decision, to transfer to Marshall and join former Gators assistant Bob Pruett, worked out quite nicely. He threw for 3,407 yards and 35 touchdowns in his lone season under center for the Herd, and was named to the American Football Quarterly All-America first team and the Associated Press and Sports Network All-America second teams.
Kresser had kept in touch with Marshall coaches throughout Anderson's high school career, keeping them abreast of his student's progress. And he told Anderson tales of his Herd career.
"We had talked a lot about his playing days and watched some of his film," Anderson said. "He didn't really tell me much about the campus, mostly about his games. But once I committed, he told me just about the local restaurants and stuff."
"I definitely knew a lot about Marshall because of Eric," he added, "just knowing that he went there and knowing what he told me."
And Anderson now knows just how helpful Kresser's advice in enrolling early was. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound quarterback began college life without the breakneck pace of fall football practice at the same time. He'll join a talented quarterback lineup that includes reigning Conference USA MVP Rakeem Cato, Blake Frohnapfel and Gunnar Holcombe. He can learn an offense he calls "a quarterback's dream" at a more gradual pace, and he likes that he'll have the opportunity for more reps.
"I'm here at spring, where there's a ton of time, tons of practices," he said. "I can get reps. I can learn the playbook. I'm just in a college workout now and I know I'm getting a lot stronger. I feel like I'm a step ahead."
Anderson will be trying to regain a step after missing most of his senior season with a broken collarbone he suffered in the first half of Boca Raton's fourth game of 2012, a 40-17 loss to Fort Lauderdale-Dillard. He had thrown for 509 yards and five touchdowns up to that point and was the 26th-rated recruit in the Palm Beach Post's talent-rich coverage area.
Anderson said the collarbone is 100 percent. He was working out and throwing in the weeks prior to enrolling at Marshall. And while his size and arm strength are impressive, Kresser said Anderson's maturity could be his greatest strength.
"With his leadership and mindset, he's the perfect guy to play the quarterback position," Kresser said. "He's better than I was in college. He knows what he has to do to get where he wants to be."
In high school, that meant driving from Boca Raton to Jupiter for 7 a.m. Sunday passing workouts. Kresser would tell Anderson they could begin later in the day, but Anderson kept his early-morning appointments. He had other workouts and agility drills to fit into the schedule.
At Marshall, that will mean learning among some good signal-callers, including incumbent starter Cato, who assaulted the school record books with his 4,201-yard, 37-touchdown 2012 season. Anderson knows it will take time, patience and hard work, but he's ready.
"There's going to be a transition from high school football to college football," he said. "The speed is so much different. The fact that I have 15 practices in spring versus coming in in the fall, when it's all first-team reps ... it gives me almost another half a year of practice to just develop myself. On an individual level, the spring practice season is where I'm really going to develop."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at email@example.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.