Since middle school, North Carolina verbal commitment Brian Anderson has watched the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game on television. On Dec. 10, he'll represent the Yellowhammer State in the 30th edition of that game.
"Last year, it realistically set in that, 'Hey, I might be able to play in this,'" Anderson said. "So I'm really excited for it. Not only does it give me an opportunity to miss school for a week to practice football, but also it's an opportunity to get close to the guys around the state."
On Dec. 5, Anderson, a 6-foot-3, 273-pound offensive lineman from Montgomery (Ala.) Catholic, will arrive in Hattiesburg, Miss. to begin preparation for the all-star game. The game will kickoff at noon the following Saturday.
In the meantime, Anderson's focus is his high school team, which owns a 7-2 win-loss record and has already qualified for the AHSAA 4A playoffs.
"Our team is really starting to come together as a whole," Anderson said. "We're seeded right now third in the playoff standings. All the guys are excited, because it's the best record our team has had in probably 20 years. It's been a really long time for our school to actually have a good winning season. Not only that, we have an opportunity to have a long stretch run in the playoffs.
"I think right now, most teams at this point of the year would be burnt out from the season and kind of wanting it to be over. But, I feel like it's the exact opposite for us. We're just now getting started. We're getting excited every day in practice."
There was some talk this spring of shifting Anderson to center, his projected college position, for game reps before his UNC arrival. That was nixed before the season.
"Especially at my level of high school ball, it's influential on my team to anchor me at tackle and to run right underneath me or right outside of me," Anderson said. "Although I would like to get center reps, it's not for the best of the team."
With Anderson anchoring the O-line at tackle, Montgomery Catholic is averaging 160.7 yards on the ground.
"I feel like I'm at the peak of my game," Anderson said. "I'm playing the best football I've ever played. I'm grading out really well each and every week. My assignments are looking good each and every play."
Considering UNC's proximity, Anderson has yet to attend a game in Chapel Hill this season. But, he, his father, and a friend made the trek to Tallahassee earlier this month and were in the stands when Nick Weiler drilled a 55-yard field goal as time expired to upset Florida State. Anderson plans to be in Kenan Stadium when UNC hosts Georgia Tech on Nov. 5.
"I think we're playing well," Anderson said. "It's definitely hurting us a little bit having some of the guys out that we do. Caleb Peterson being out, that's a big factor. Jon Heck is out, too. We went from having a veteran offensive line to moving to a very young offensive line.
"Mitch Trubisky, he's a machine and he's having a blow out year. And T.J. [Logan] is having a really good year, too. I think the defense started off really rough, especially as far as stopping the run game -- that was pretty clear in the Pitt game -- but that definitely picked back up. I feel like right now, we're sharping up and looking really good and have a great chance to win out and reclaim the [ACC] Coastal [Division]."
After the season, Anderson will return to Chapel Hill for his lone official visit. It's tentatively scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 14.
Anderson says that he and Chris Kapilovic, UNC's offensive line coach, still talk on a weekly basis. However, the conversations have changed.
"When I was being recruited, it was basically feeding me stuff, 'When are you going to be able to get up here,'" Anderson said. "Now that I'm committed, it's mainly technical questions -- how am I looking in practice, how am I looking in games -- and then personal stuff in my family life. He's growing to be, in a sense, my coach. We're started to really develop a relationship."