Anderson not afraid of next step

Alabama hosted some top talent over the weekend for its initial spring football scrimmage, including one of the top defenders in the state Keaton Anderson. The SEC legacy is very familiar with the Crimson Tide, but his latest trip only helped the in-state school's chances at landing the three-star.

Keaton Anderson, a Tennessee Volunteer legacy, is very familiar with top schools in the SEC. He has been to Knoxville several times, as well as to Alabama and emerging school on his list LSU.

The Florence (Ala.) three-star linebacker, coming off of a 191-tackle junior campaign, took in Tuscaloosa once more this weekend as Nick Saban's program held its initial spring football scrimmage.

While the football aspect was his favorite part, the smaller things are starting to become more and more important as he evaluates his top schools before making a final decision.

"It's becoming a more serious time with everything," Anderson said. "I'm looking at everything more specifically, not just on the football side, but academically. Like yesterday, I was able to visit the business school to see where I could fit in at and where my major could be.

"So I'm just looking at little things like that right now."

In Tuscaloosa, the non-football activities are designed to help athletes take care of business off the field.

"I met with people who worked at the business school, I got to see where the support staff fits in academically to help football players stay on track," he said. "It was cool to see, and it was nice to see just how much they care about the football players. It was awesome to be around them and talk to them a little bit."

When inside Bryant-Denney Stadium, however, Anderson focused on the linebacker group, one with plenty of questions surrounding it heading into the 2014 season.

"I liked the scrimmage part of it," he said. "I've been away from hitting for a while, so getting to see people get after it a little bit, they were live scrimmaging and taking people to the ground, they were going around and having some fun with it – that was probably the best part of it. We're all there for football, so it was fun to see people get after it.

"I was watching Reggie Ragland, he's actually one of my teammates' uncle, and I thought he had an outstanding practice. I even watched Shaun Dion (Hamilton), he was blowing people up. I was really impressed with the way they were getting after it; they were playing fundamental with solid linebacker technique. I was extremely impressed."

After losing an All-American like C.J. Mosley in the middle, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder realized how the program reloads at the position. It helps to pique his interest in the home-state school.

"I think it's fun to see, because with Alabama's program they still have talent coming in," Anderson said. "They're not going to slow down. Whatever school you go to, there's going to be competition so that can't be that big of a factor. Wherever you go, especially in the SEC, there's going to be people already in front of you that are great football players or some that were ranked high coming out of high school. So seeing stuff like that makes me think Alabama is more than likely going to stay on top, continue to compete for championships especially with the linebacker play.

"I think they only have about five scholarship linebackers right now, but all five were getting after it. I can definitely see myself playing with them, they're great guys. They're willing to come put a hand out if I was an incoming freshman, settle me in and help get things right for me."

While the camaraderie between fellow linebackers impressed a potential future teammate, Saban's staff made sure to focus plenty of their time his way on Saturday as well.

"The main coach I stayed around was Coach [Kevin] Steele," Anderson said. " I did talk to Coach Saban, I talked to Coach [Billy] Napier and most of the coaches, but I stayed around and talked to Coach Steele afterwards. We talked about the positions, what I do, how they see me fitting in, how everything looks for them…it was great. He laid things out for me.

"I was able to understand my role coming in. He talked about how much the game is changing so they're looking for a more speed role (at linebacker). The big 6-4, 260 (pound) linebacker that they used to have in the SEC sometimes won't work. Like with Texas A&M and other speed offenses, I'd probably more than likely play WILL linebacker (weak side) because I can cover backs, take guys on crossing routes, somebody that can get covered up in the box that can also come out and make tackles."

One of the top rising seniors in the state of Alabama remains a priority for the staff in Tuscaloosa, and the interest is reciprocated further.

"They're definitely in my top schools, they always stay up high," he said. "I love the University of Alabama, they've been on me from basically the beginning of my recruiting. They've always thought I had the ability to play in the SEC, which I'm appreciative of. Going to Alabama this time definitely helps them.

"They definitely are one of the two or three that really standout to me."

Anderson is thinking about narrowing things down further, but he stands with a top five at this point. He visited each of the schools on the list previously, and doesn't have any immediate plans to see another school.

"Right now I have five, Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, Miami and Duke," he said. "I may be ready to make a decision before the season, but if I need to wait, I'll wait. I'm not afraid to take my time, but not afraid to pull the trigger, either."

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