Think of Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson, and it’s likely a thought of a speedy edge man making a rush on a quarterback. After all, a third of his 37 tackles in 2015 were behind the line of scrimmage for losses totaling 50 yards. He had 6 sacks and 9 quarterback pressures.
But Ryan Anderson doesn’t want to be known as a pass rusher.
Anderson was answering a question regarding the progress of Tim Williams – who mans the outside linebacker spot opposite Anderson and who was also prominent for his play in opponents’ backfields (19 tackles, 13 of them for loss, 6 sacks, and 4 quarterback hurries).
"A lot of people say we're pass rushers,” Anderson said. “We're not. We stop the run. That's what Coach Tosh (Lupoi) says: ‘You stop the run, you have some fun.’
“So we take pride in stopping the run. We're not just pass rushers."
At 6-2, 253, Anderson has the body of an inside linebacker, but the speed to also be effective on third down plays. In the 2015 national championship season, Anderson and Williams were frequently passing down substitutes for starters Dillon Lee and Denzel Devall, perhaps giving rise to the “pass rusher” reputation.
Anderson, an upcoming senior, has played in 40 games in his first three seasons, but has not been a starter. That may change this year as he is the leader at strongside linebacker. He has career numbers of 67 tackles, 21 for losses of 91 yards, and 12 sacks.
“ I take pride in being an all-around player, not just being somebody they go up against on third down, just run up the field," he said.
Anderson and his Crimson Tide teammates are in the last week of spring practice and conclude drills with the A-Day Game at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Anderson’s first A-Day Game was as a spectator, a prospect making a recruiting visit from his hometown in Daphne. To say it made an impact is almost an understatement.
“I committed at A-Day,” he said.
"It was big, you know, just to see all those people there at the spring game, showing for the spring game. I was like 'I can only imagine what it will be like for the fall.' So that left a big mark on me. I already liked the place when I came. I just felt at home and that just took it over the edge."
In addition to Lee and Devall, the linebacker corps lost its defensive captain and leading tackler, Reggie Ragland, from last year’s team. Anderson was asked who was stepping into the leadership role.
"Reuben,” Ryan said of his senior teammate, middle linebacker Reuben Foster, the only starting linebacker returning. “He's taking control of the defense, getting everybody signed up. He's making it a big point of emphasis for him to get everybody lined up and make sure everybody has the call. That's a big thing Reggie did. I see him taking on that role now."