Attend a University of Cincinnati football practice this spring, and there is a good chance Chazz Anderson will be one of the last guys to leave the field. Wednesday morning was no different for the red shirt freshman, and following another successful practice, Bearcat Insider didn't mind at all waiting around to speak with the quarterback.
Head coach Brian Kelly has recently had good things to say of Anderson and his play, but his approval has also shown on the field as Anderson has begun to receive more and more reps with the first team offense. While many may have expected Anderson to be the starting quarterback of the future for Cincinnati, coach Kelly has stated that the 6’-0” 205 lb. quarterback is competing for this coming season’s starting nod.
Anderson didn’t do anything in particular today to make audiences wow him (his longest completion was a 16-yarder to Dominick Goodman during 7-on-7), but he is showing signs of becoming more comfortable under center. Anderson showed his ability to hold onto the ball and run with it today when no passing opportunity had developed itself. As part of a situational drill which put the offense on the 45-yard line with 58 seconds on the clock, Anderson quarterbacked the offense to the 26-yard line before his 4-yard keeper out of bounds on third and 10 wasn’t enough to move the chains again. However, the very fact that Anderson was chosen to take part in the drill over UC’s other quarterbacks could be a statement in itself.
“He’s got a strong arm, very smart kid, delivers the ball in a timely fashion,” said Kelly of the Pickerington, Ohio native. “He’s starting to throw some strikes out there, and in our offense obviously pass efficiency is crucial. He’s finding the strike zone. We’ve got a couple of other guys that are a little erotic that don’t throw strikes; they don’t get as many reps right now. He’s been more efficient, more effective in throwing it, and he’s got a strong arm. He’s in the hunt in the quarterback contest.”
For a teenaged kid “in the hunt” for the starting job at a BCS school, Anderson has not let his ego grow along with his starting chances.
“It’s just an unbelievable opportunity. I’m just thankful,” said Anderson. “I thank God each and every day that coach has given me the opportunity to compete with the rest of the quarterbacks.”
“I’m having a lot of fun,” said Anderson of his spring ball experience. “It’s a learning process. You’ve got to continue to make strides and progress in the coverage reads and the blitz schemes, but it’s really fun.”
While Anderson may be thankful and surprised he’s being considered for the starting nod so early in his college career, quarterbacks coach Greg Forest has seen the work Anderson puts in and knows what the quarterback is capable of.
“We recruited him for a reason. Obviously we thought he could come in and compete, and the kid puts in a lot of hours,” said Forest. “It’s not a surprise as many hours as he puts in that he’s been able to make that transition already.”
Remaining humble, Anderson referenced the speech given to the team by Florida head coach Urban Meyer in stating why he thinks he’s being seriously looked at for the starting position this coming fall.
“Just like Urban Meyer said, it’s the willingness to learn, the ability to stay after practice and watch hours and hours of film and just being able to learn what you’re being taught in the classroom,” said Anderson. “I think that’s what’s helped me along the way. I still have a lot of steps to take and a lot of things to overcome, and all the other quarterbacks are playing great, I’m just so thankful right now.”
Even after putting in all of the extra effort Anderson has, he realizes he can never do or know too much.
“Just learning, continuing to pick up the game as far as coverages and blitzes” says Anderson of what he wants to continue to get out of the rest of the spring ball season. “It’s an ever-learning process, you never can know enough, so I’ve just got to continue to learn and stay in the classroom.”
Coach Kelly has said that a strong arm and ability to throw strikes has been what sets Anderson apart from the other quarterbacks in his mind. Anderson however, remains humble when comparing himself to the likes of Dustin Grutza, Demetrius Jones, and Tony Pike.
“I don’t think anything really sets me apart but, I think, the willingness to learn and to compete each and every day my very best,” said Anderson.
We’ll be sure to continue watching Anderson each and every day as he gives his very best throughout the remainder of spring practice.