Maryland secured a commitment from Vineland Senior (N.J.) three-star linebacker Nihym Anderson April 13. Afterwards, we spoke to his head coach, Dan Russo, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder. Check out our question-and-answer session below:
Terrapin Times: Coach, we knew Nihym really liked Maryland, and we knew he was just down there for his second visit to UMD. But we weren’t expecting a commitment quite this soon. Were you surprised?
Dan Russo: Actually, no. Since he visited the first time he really liked it. I wasn’t with him his first time; he was with his uncle. He loved it. He came back to Vineland, and that was all he was talking about. He has all kinds of schools calling and more offers were on the way, but he just liked everything about Maryland.
He liked the coaches, campus, the facilities, and obviously Under Armour is second to none. They get the best stuff. And he liked the defensive scheme and how they’re going to use him. It was like the perfect fit for him. He liked everything about it. It wasn’t one thing, it was everything.
And the last visit I went with him. I wanted to meet the coaches. I went to the Maryland coaching clinic this year, actually, because Nihym was speaking so highly of them. And I just wanted to make sure I felt the same way, and I did. They’re really good guys and I appreciate them giving him an opportunity. These football players, they’re like my sons and I wanted to make sure he was going to a school and a program that would fit his skill-set and what he was looking to do. And he found that at Maryland.
TT: Speaking of skill-set, Coach, can you break down Nihym for us and what he brings? He’s listed as both an OLB and ILB, so what can he do?
DR: He’s so talented, he could play inside or outside in my opinion. I was watching Maryland practice, and those coaches are going to have to make that determination where to put him, because he could fit at either spot there.
We put him at tight end this year, actually. It was his first year there, and he showed great hands, speed and strength. Then yesterday he deadlifted 515 pounds for his max strength. I told him no more (laughs).
He committed to the weight room, classroom, and he does all the right things on and off the field. And he’s a great leader; he’ll be a captain this year. He’s a kid that really bought into our program and took advantage of what we had to offer. And he’ll take advantage of what Maryland has to offer too. He’ll be a great player for Maryland.
I can’t say enough good things about him.
He’s got to be one of the best linebackers in the country in my opinion. I don’t see how you get much better than him, and I’ve seen a lot of good players. He can change the outcome of a game. He’s dominant at our level, and I feel he can do the same for Maryland in the Big Ten.
TT: Technically speaking, what’s your scouting report:
DR: For us, he’s a terrific blitzer. He just wrecks havoc on an offense. You have to account for him on every play. We move him around, and I’m sure Maryland will do the same. The offense always has to account for No. 8, which is Nihym. Every team we play, I always see them making adjustments to account for him. He is just so dynamic and he can wreck havoc. You just don’t know where he’s coming from – outside, inside, all over. He has great speed, he’s quick off the ball, and he times his blitzes perfectly. He just disrupts an offense like no other.
TT: What are some areas Nihym needs to improve in?
DR: For Big Ten, just because he’s younger -- he’s just 17 believe it or not -- I’d say just his flexibility. But they’ll get him ready at Maryland with the strength and conditioning coaches they have. We do the best we can here, but we don’t have the resources a Division I college program does.
TT: Coach. Nihym undoubtedly will get more offers. But what were some of the reservations bigger schools such as Ohio State or Michigan had?
DR: I don’t think they had any reservations, to tell you the truth. I just think they’re a little to the game. They just haven’t reach Vineland yet. Those schools are contacting him, and they’re contacting me. Penn State wants him. Ohio State has been talking to me about him. And the Florida schools are starting to contact me now. He’s just getting started, man.
He is going to have a lot of offers, but I think he’s just going to cut it off. He’s a committed kid, you know? I don’t really see him decommitting or anything. If he says he’s committed to something, he usually follows through. He’s not one of those types of people. But all these schools are starting to contact him, and they’re just starting to figure out who he is and what he can do.
Maryland was smart enough to jump on him early. I let Coach [Anthony] Tucker know we had a few players up here, and they evaluated him, and it wasn’t long after that I got a call back and they said, ‘Wow, we want this kid.’
But he’s a legitimate 6-1, 6-2 and he’s 230 pounds. And he has a huge wingspan. He’s a really good defensive player and could even play tight end or H-back for Maryland.
TT: What are your thoughts on Coach Tucker and also Coach Matt Barnes, who recruited Nihym?
DR: I think very highly of them, They’re very professional coaches and very good people. My dealings with them have been very good. When we were down at Maryland’s clinic, we were one of the only Jersey guys there, and we felt very welcomed by the whole staff. It’s been great dealing with Coach Tucker, Coach Barnes and all the coaches at Maryland.
TT: What’s Nihym like around his teammates? Is he quiet, intense, loud?
DR: Extremely intense and a leader. He’s not quiet at all. He’ll let you know if you’re not doing your job. He’ll call you out or himself out – whoever needs to pick it up he’ll let you know. He tells it like it is.
TT: Any cool stories you can tell to detail that?
DR: That you can write on the Internet (laughs)? No, not really for print (laughs).
TT: What about a story about a big play Nihym made, that made you say, ‘Wow, this kid can play at a high level in college?’
DR: Our big rival up here is Millville. It’s one of the longest rivalries in the country. They kept trying to squib or kick it deep, depending on our formation or returns. So we put Nihym in the middle part of the formation, and I told him if they kicked it to him to just take the ball and run straight to the sideline. So Nihym was on the right sideline and they kicked it to him. I was yelling at him at the top of my lungs to run out of bounds, but he ran all the way to the left. The next thing I know he goes 60 yards for a touchdown. I stopped yelling and was like, ‘Great job Nihym!’ (laughs). From there, we never looked back and won the game.
He made a game-time decision as a player, which is what we coached him to do, and he turned it into a touchdown. That’s the kind of player he is; he makes things happen.
TT: Last question, Coach. What kind of upside do you think Nihym has at Maryland?
DR: With the resources he’ll have, he has NFL potential in my opinion. I’ve been all over these college; every year I fly out to see what people have to offer. Nihym is a very dynamic program, and I’ve got to say his skill level and what he brings is going to be really beneficial to Maryland. His upside is, if he keeps working as hard as he has in high school, he could possibly break into the league.
Maryland is going to be very happy with him. Those coaches know what they’re getting. They’re getting something special.