December 25, 2011

Anderson makes biggest jump in Top 50

DAPHNE | Daphne High School linebacker Ryan Anderson doesn't care where he's ranked. He believes he's the best player, and he's out to prove it every time he steps on the field or in the weight room.

"I think Ryan has something in his DNA that he wants to prove to everyone that he is better than everyone else," Daphne assistant coach Mike Vickery said.

Going into the season, Anderson was a relative unknown. He was considered a three-star by most recruiting services, and Tidesports.com had him ranked at No. 13 in the Alabama's Most Wanted ranking of the state's top 50 players.

The University of Alabama commitment took exception to the rankings and spent his senior season out to prove all of his critics wrong. He has jumped up to No. 3 in the state in the updated Alabama's Most Wanted rankings, the biggest leap of any player. Running back T.J. Yeldon, a recent Alabama commitment, jumped from No. 6 to No. 2 in another big move.

"I just wanted to prove people wrong," Anderson said. "Most of the time, I just want to show people that they can't rate a high school player or somebody else on something they don't know. I want to let everybody know that I'm the best."

After just four games, Anderson already had close to a double-digit sack total and quickly became recognized as one of the most feared defensive players in the state. The hybrid linebacker played all over the Daphne defense and finished with 92 tackles and 12.5 sacks.

Even after his season came up short with a second-round playoff loss at Prattville, Anderson created more attention at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. During practice, he was not only the best linebacker - many believed he was the best player on the field for Team Alabama.

"I think Ryan always plays with a chip on his shoulder," Vickery said. "It could be something from a ranking or it could be something that somebody he's playing against said about him. He can manufacture motivation, and he's really good at that. That's what he lives off of on the football field."

Anderson is expected to enroll early at Alabama, along with Yeldon, and Vickery expects both players to make an impact early for the Crimson Tide next year.

"I think (Anderson) will play early because of his work ethic in the weight room, and he has such a high football IQ," Vickery said. "He'll pick up on things really quick. I think that will give him an opportunity to get in there, compete and have a chance to play early.

"He really enjoys the weight room. He's got a trainer now that he's working with, and he'll be a scary kid by the time spring practice starts."

Yeldon a Rivals.com five-star player, rushed for 2,196 yards and scored 32 touchdowns as a senior and is a leading candidate to win Alabama's Mr. Football award.

"He's so strong," Vickery said. "He really wears on people, very similar to watching Trent Richardson and those guys play. In that first quarter, they may get bottled up a little bit, but in that third and fourth quarter, they really start to force their will on people, and T.J. is the same type of guy."

The No. 1 spot in the rankings still belongs to Hueytown quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston, a Florida State commitment, backed up his top overall ranking with 2,424 yards and 28 touchdowns passing and 1,065 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing.

Crimson Tide linebacker commitments Reggie Ragland and Tyler Hayes round out the top five.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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