Rising star at Rover

When it comes to his responsibilities as position coach, Carl Torbush's job is simple: Produce the Number one linebacking corps in the nation--athletic enough to dominate and deep enough to withstand injuries. <br><br>Developing depth is a key part of that equation, and Torbush thinks he's found a good one. "The (young) athlete that intrigues me right now is Mark Anderson," Torbush said.

Anderson arrived on campus last fall slated for defensive end. At 6-6, he definitely had the height. But the Tulsa, Oklahoma native is relatively slender in build, and the coaches soon decided that linebacker would be Anderson's more natural position. "I coached some outstanding linebackers at North Carolina," Torbush said. "And some of them had his kind of frame. Right now my opinion is that Mark could potentially be better than all of them.

Pictured stretching before last spring's A-Day scrimmage, Anderson has shown excellent potential at Rover.

"That's a big-time compliment."

Torbush, who compiled a 17-18 record at North Carolina in three seasons as head coach, served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 1988 through 1997. In his 12 years as defensive coordinator at UNC, the Tar Heels had six defensive players earn All-American honors and 41 All-ACC selections. For 11 consecutive seasons, every starting linebacker at North Carolina but one earned an opportunity to play in the NFL.

Torbush continued, "Will Anderson get to where those (North Carolina) linebackers ended up? We don't know that. But with his work habits, with his intelligence, with his conscientiousness and what he is as an athlete--I'll be shocked if he doesn't become a really, really fine football player."

Utilizing his excellent straight-ahead speed and height, Anderson should become a weapon rushing the passer from his Rover position. "I prefer to praise the guys afterwards--after they've done it on the field, not before," Torbush related. "But he can run. He can jump. He's tough.

"Mark can be a big-time Rover."

Torbush believes Anderson will eventually end up playing as a 240-pound plus linebacker.

A two-way player for Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School, Anderson turned in 104 tackles and nine quarterback sacks his senior season. In one game on defense he had two blocked punts, three sacks and 20 tackles. A team captain in football, Anderson also starred in basketball.

After redshirting in 2001, this year will mark Anderson's first season of college competition. "I think he'll play some (at Rover)," Torbush said. "And he'll probably help on special teams."

There is no doubt that Anderson's height and speed will make him valuable in the kicking game, but it's his knack for making the big play that has Torbush optimistic. "Your Rover linebacker should be a playmaker," Torbush explained. "Brooks (Daniels, the current starter at Rover) is a smaller, stronger kid. But you put Mark out there and he becomes more of a defensive end/linebacker type.

"I really like where he's at. I'm interested to see how far he can take it."


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