Every quarterback dreams of achieving success in the NFL. University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff passer Benjamin Anderson is no different. The former Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Freshman of the year and first-team all-conference quarterback spoke to us this week about his football career thus far, and his aspirations for the future.
Fakepigskin: You may not be well-known to a lot of casual fans, so tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Benjamin Anderson: My name is Benjamin Anderson, from Little Rock, Arkansas. I graduated from high school in 2010 from Parkview High School. I have played football and baseball all my life, and went to baseball prospect games in Chicago and Los Angeles going into my senior year, and had more Division One offers in baseball. University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff was my biggest offer in football. I’ve started all four seasons at quarterback in high school, before red-shirting my freshman year. As a red-shirt freshman, I started. We went 6-5 that season. In my second year, we went 10-2 and we were conference champions. Last season we struggled as a team and went 2-9, but I led the conference in total yards, was second in passing, and was sixth in rushing.
FP: You had a terrific 2013, with 2,700 yards and 19 touchdowns passing, 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns rushing, and even caught a touchdown pass. How do you rate your season, and did the team’s struggles dampen the excitement from the big year personally?
BA: It was a struggle. I’ve always place wins over stats, so after a big game stat-wise, losing those games like we were was hard to deal with. After losing everybody (in 2012) it was hard to recover with so many true freshman. It really had to be strictly a learning experience. It’s hard to rate myself because I would rather win games than have stats. At the same time, I’m aware that I did a lot of things exceptionally well.
FP: Obviously the goal is to win more games in 2014, but do you have any individual goals for the coming season?
BA: Winning the SWAC. That’s the biggest goal, but honestly, I’ve talked about a (Steve) McNair-like season with some close teammates. I’d like to double my passing output and rush for 1,000 yards with at least 40 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns.
FP: Is there anything in particular that you feel you can do differently from last year to win more games?
BA: Use more of the clock and have longer drives to assist the defense. Also, we need to have more consistent drives ending in points, and get the younger players to use their respect for me on and off the field in the right ways.
FP: As a small-school player, do you think you have to work harder and perform better than big-school players do in order to be noticed by NFL scouts?
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BA: Yes. I’ve been going to the Manning camp for the past two summers. I’ve looked the part, and don’t give away a difference until my school is pronounced. I can make every throw, but my school is the difference. That’s why I’m stuck on winning. It’s my focus every summer, but this is another opportunity to sell myself, and I’m anxious for the date.
FP: That brings us to the next question. Has attending the Manning camp helped you personally in your development?
BA: Well, we’re there more as coaches for the kids, but anytime I hear a coach give technique pointers, or someone raps with me for a minute, I’m always listening, trying to get what I can. We get a little actual work with the Mannings the first day, though.
FP: You’re an excellent runner, which seems natural. As a passer, what do you think you need to do to attract NFL scouts?
BA: Put out more film of myself throwing. I have a number of good throws spread throughout the last few years. I’m always working my post with velocity and touch, deep outs, comebacks, on the run, and short-intermediate routes. I have a lot of planned seven-on-seven this summer, but I’m in Pine Bluff working on them.
FP: As a passer, what is your biggest strength? Weakness?
BA: I say my strengths are making good throws in the pocket and keeping my eyes downfield when running, especially considering the way I play. My weakness is probably getting antsy and not always trusting my pocket. Also, the newness of the offense.
FP: Is there a signature play you are especially proud of?
BA: The throw in the championship game (see clip below). Watching that play still gives me chills, and takes me back to the moment every time.
FP: Who has been the biggest influence on your football career?
BA: My parents. They’ve always been my number one supporters, but my pops is the one who introduced me to the game, and coaches me when he can. They’ve always been there when I need them, and continue to influence and inspire me.
FP: Is there anything else you feel people should know about you?
BA: Be prepared for an unsuspected talent out of the SWAC!
FP: What should NFL teams, and fans, look for from you in 2014?
BA: They should look forward to seeing me in in Reliant Stadium this December to cap off a great senior season.
Fakepigskin.com would like to thank Benjamin Anderson for his time and his honesty. We wish him the best of luck in 2014.