Today is July 20, 2019, which means we are officially just 42 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. Yesterday, we profiled Michael Hawkes, a productive two-year starter at mike linebacker, who was a part of the greatest team in Virginia Tech history in 1999.
Today, we look back at No. 42, James Anderson. Anderson arrived in Blacksburg in 2001, as a two-star linebacker from Deep Creek High in Chesapeake and was high school teammates with DeAngelo Hall. That recruiting class is arguably the best in Virginia Tech history as it featured Anderson, Hall, Kevin Jones, Cedric Humes, Jeff King, Bryan Randall, Justin Hamilton and a host of other former starters at Virginia Tech. It was a great class that the coaches also developed into good college football players.
Anderson was a player the different recruiting publications were split on. Some had him as a two-star, while another had him much higher. It turns out, Anderson was much better than his recruiting ranking indicated and became a contributor and starter early in his career.
He redshirted in 2001, helping out on the scout team before becoming a special-teams stalwart in 2002. He played in all 14 games, including picking up starts, making 48 tackles, including three for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Anderson played in all 13 games in 2003, making 41 tackles and being a big-time contributor on special teams while being the primary backup at whip linebacker.
In 2004, when Tech won the ACC in its inaugural season, Anderson moved into the starting lineup and started 12 of 13 games. He ranked seventh on the team with 48 tackles, including 6.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks and an interception. He was the ideal whip linebacker due to his athleticism and versatility.
Anderson’s senior season of 2005 was his best one in Blacksburg. He finished second on the team in tackles with 82, including 8.5 TFLs, three sacks and two interceptions. He was disruptive in the passing game and a terrific sideline-to-sideline defender in the running game. He was a part of what could be considered Virginia Tech’s best starting group of linebackers ever, along with Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi. It was a special group.
Anderson was a standout at the 2006 NFL Scouting Combine, measuring in at 6’2” and weighing 229 pounds, while running a 4.6 40-yard dash. He would end up being picked in the third round by the Carolina Panthers. He played in Carolina seven years, many of which he was a starter and when he was released by the Panthers to save money, he had set the franchise record for tackles in a game and most appearances by a linebacker in franchise history.
He would spend part of three more seasons in the NFL with the Bears, Patriots, Titans, Cowboys, Falcons and Saints. He finished his NFL career with 577 tackles, 12 sacks and three interceptions.
He will probably be best remembered as a reliable and athletic linebacker who didn’t miss games and someone coaches and teammates alike could depend. As we discussed with Michael Hawkes yesterday, Anderson is another outstanding example of Virginia Tech being able to identify and develop players which led to its rise to prominence.
Hokies, how do you remember Anderson and class of 2001?