Brady Anderson Liberty football

Liberty linebacker Brady Anderson, seen here in 2019, is one of thousands of local athletes desperate to return to action in the fall of 2020. A tweet Anderson sent out last week reading "Please don’t cancel football" was shared more than 1,000 times.

An unmissable message is prominently displayed on Brady Anderson's back plate every time the Liberty linebacker steps onto the football field.

Feel Me.

The terse, unambiguous message seems to be a perfectly fitting one for Anderson, who's spent his entire life attempting to assert himself in challenging situations.

The youngest of three boys, Brady often faced an uphill battle when roughhousing with brothers Bowen and Brock, who are seven and three years older than him respectively.

But whether the brothers were playing backyard football or boxing on the front porch, young Brady was always desperate to prove he belonged, showing a tenacity that wowed members of his family.

"When he got in tough situations and was getting beat up a little bit, he didn't back down," Brady's father Chris Anderson said. "A switch always flipped. He became tougher and went after people."

Knowing how he held up against his older, stronger siblings, Chris wouldn't allow Brady to take his foot off the accelerator when he started playing tackle football against kids his own age.

A former college player who even played a year professionally in Australia, Chris served as Brady's youth coach from ages 10 to 13, where the father was always providing stiff challenges the son was eager to meet.

"He's a pretty tough coach," Brady said. "He was always on me the most. He always told me 'I'm not going to treat you better than anyone else, you're going to get to work. And I was like 'Bring it on.'"

It wasn't just his son's physicality that made Chris push. When Brady first put on pads at age eight, his father noticed he possessed an innate ability to decipher plays from the linebacker position, showcasing an instinct uncommon in kids his age.

“I would watch him read as a linebacker and he would do things I couldn’t believe," Chris said. "He would find the ball and go through holes and get the ball carrier. He learned to read (offenses) at a really young age and find ball carriers. He was always just one step ahead of kids." 

Now 17 and entering his senior year of high school, Brady's physical and cerebral gifts have drawn the attention of high-level college programs. Following a junior season where he recorded 53 tackles in 10 games, Brady enters the fall ranked as one of the top 100 inside linebackers of the 2021 recruiting class by 247 Sports.

"It's a dream come true," Brady said of the ranking. "I've always wanted to play college football, be one of the best in the nation, so it felt awesome to be on that list for sure."

Naturally, Division-I interest have spiked in recent months. It started in February, when Fresno State gave him his first offer before the likes of San Diego State, New Mexico, Air Force, Army, Montana State, Northern Arizona, Cal Poly and Sacramento State followed suit.

An intellect that's carried over from the field to the classroom has helped him cast a wider net on the recruiting trail, as Ivy League schools Columbia and Penn have also made offers.

Following the departures of fellow linebackers Dylan Tooker and Dylan Holmes, Anderson will be the unquestioned leader of the Liberty defense in 2020, a role Patriot coach Bryan Nixon says he's well-suited for.

"He’s always been a leader, now he’s just going to be a senior leader," Nixon said. "He was a vocal leader when he needed to be last year. He knows his responsibility and what’s at stake and he wants to be great.”

To say Anderson wants to be great seems like an understatement when you hear his stated goals for the 2020 season.

Aiming to lead Liberty to a fourth-consecutive unbeaten run through the Southwest Yosemite League, Anderson hopes to hit extremely high numbers -- 100-plus tackles with 45 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns -- as a senior.

Lofty goals to be sure. But if he reaches them, opponents won't have to read the message etched on his pads to feel his presence on the field.

"I need to come out and be more violent than last year," he said. "Be nasty and just come out harder."

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(1) comment

Moardeeb

Yeah this new deal of using the word violent in football should be rethought. Macho carp like that just leads to trouble.

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