Golston and Anderson go separate ways

ATHENS – In the best of times, they've been, literally, inseparable, a fused block in the middle of Georgia's defensive line controlling the point of attack. In the lean times, they've each nursed injuries ranging from severe to nagging.

Through it all, Kedric Golston and Gerald Anderson have been linked. Anderson arrived one year earlier but his redshirt season in 2001 left them matriculating at the same rate. Nineteen times they lined up hulking shoulder to hulking shoulder as the Bulldogs' starting tackles.

They were a duo in conversation – "Golston and Anderson" or "Anderson and Golston" depending on the week. And their connection was expected to last at least until next weekend's NFL Draft as they sweated out each other's professional fate. Instead, this is where it ends.

Golston will watch the draft with a personal stake starting Saturday, but Anderson has moved on. He made the decision early this month to quit the sport and accept a position as defensive line coach at Pierce County High School.

"We grew a tight bond on the field," Anderson said. "It is kind of hard that I'm not going to be going through this process with him, but I know he's not going to turn his nose up at me because I'm not going to the NFL."

"I still love him to death," Golston confirmed. "He just took that (job) and figured he was satisfied with his career. I hate it for him, but I think he's happy."

Anderson was hired by first-year Pierce County coach Mike Woodard, who was Anderson's defensive coordinator at Ware County High School. The pair remained close since Anderson left South Georgia, and Woodard had a standing offer for Anderson to join him on the sideline when his playing career was finished.

"That time just came sooner than both of us thought," Woodard said.

Anderson has moved back home to Ware County, Pierce County's neighbor, and already begun his duties with the team. Golston, meanwhile, must wait at least a week before he's gainfully employed.

"I'm pretty sure that he's not envying me right now because he's got a job, and I'm still looking for one," Golston said.

Sticking with it

Golston, who trained in Miami following the Sugar Bowl, thinks he improved his draft stock during February's NFL Combine. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any of the defensive tackles (4.88), benched 225 pounds 33 times and had a 34-inch vertical leap, he said.

"The numbers I wanted to hit, I hit them," he said.

Golston's agent, Lance Courtney, is optimistic Golston could be picked on the first day of the draft.

"We're hoping for the third round," he said.

"That's been a goal of mine ever since I started training to be a first day pick," said Golston, who had a personal workout with the Washington Redskins scheduled Wednesday, "but I don't have any more control over that. I think I'm a top three round kind of player. I know my stats weren't the best, but I think my film is good and I played on some good defenses."

Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. predicted this week that Golston will be taken late in the sixth round (205th overall) by the New England Patriots. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. doesn't have Golston listed in his latest mock draft, which covers only the first four rounds of the draft.

Any team that selects Golston in the late rounds will be getting a steal, Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. Golston's natural talent is unquestioned. Coming out of Sandy Creek High School in 2002, he was a Parade All-American and ESPN.com's top defensive tackle prospect in the country.

The course of his career was forever altered, though, by a severe car accident five months prior to signing with the Bulldogs. Golston, who was thrown from his vehicle and airlifted to the hospital, suffered a broken leg and internal injuries.

"It would have been great to see Kedric Golston play without that car wreck," Garner said. "People don't realize how serious that wreck was. He almost lost his life. They didn't know if he was going to live, much less play football."

Golston not only played but started the season-opener of his first year, becoming the first true freshman to start his first game at defensive tackle since Travis Stroud in 1994 and the first ever to do it with a steel rod in his leg.

"What he did his freshman year shows how tough he is," said Garner, who has received several calls from pro teams inquiring about Golston. "Everybody likes the motor he plays with. It's hard to find guys as big as he is who play as fast as he does."

The Redskins, who don't have a third-round pick, are the only team that has flown Golston in for a personal workout, but he talked to plenty of suitors at the Combine.

"They all say that they like me," he said. "I don't know what that means. You don't believe nothing you hear and only about half the stuff you see. Hopefully, I'm relaxed (next weekend) and my name will get called early so I don't have to worry about it, but wherever I go that's where I'm supposed to be so I won't worry about it."

Moving on

Anderson, who considered leaving Georgia early for the NFL following his junior season, could have been picked as highly or even higher than his linemate.

"I heard everything from fourth to sixth round," he said.

Anderson didn't play in the Sugar Bowl due to back spasms but returned to the field in January for the Hula Bowl and signed with agent Eugene Parker, who had him working out in Florida for the draft. Anderson had even signed up to participate in Georgia's pro day, where more than three dozen NFL scouts were came to campus to evaluate players.

However, on the morning of the work out, he was a no-show.

"I didn't want to sign on with a team and then quit," Anderson said. "I went on and did what my heart wanted to do."

The decision didn't catch Woodard completely off guard.

"We have a good relationship," he said. "Through his senior year, I kind of listened to him a lot. He's really ready to be a teacher and a coach. His body is beat up a little bit, but that's not the whole reason why he's not going through the draft."

Garner was "shocked," he said.

"He just told me his heart wasn't in it," he said. "Obviously, if you're heart is not in it, it's hard to prepare for something of that magnitude."

Anderson missed four games last year due to a concussion and back spasms, and he was ineffective in several others. He finished the season with just 15 tackles, the lowest of his career, and no sacks, but Garner detected no lack of effort, he said.

"I think he had fun," he said.

Fun might be a stretch.

"I was getting frustrated," said Anderson, who had his best season as a sophomore with 55 tackles, including eight for loss. "There was a lot of frustration because I wasn't making the big plays I had in the past. I didn't think I was going out with a bang like I should have."

Immediately after the Sugar Bowl, Anderson knew what he wanted to do, but he was afraid to share his thoughts, so he went through the motions.

"It's something I've been battling for about the last four or five months," he said. "Football is not what I want to do. I'd rather teach it and work with kids."

Anderson already has impressed his new boss.

"He's showing me a lot already that a lot of veteran coaches don't do as far as relationships and being hands-on," Woodard said.

Pierce County has fallen on very hard times the last two seasons, but Anderson thinks the program can be turned around.

"We're going to have fun again down here in Pierce County," Anderson said.

Starting with the defensive line coach.

Gerald Anderson
6-foot-2, 315 pounds
Career stats: 128 tackles, 2.5 sacks

Kedric Golston
6-foot-4, 292 pounds
Career stats: 95 tackles, 3.5 sacks

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