Anderson is by far the most physically gifted quarterback to ever attend Oregon State. Draft boards across the Internet have already begun to mention his name.
Last season, he excelled during non-conference play, but struggled during conference play. An ankle injury suffered during the four-game winning streak was partly responsible for his struggles.
In his first Pac-10 game, Anderson was smothered by one of the best defenses in the country. The pummeling by USC hurt Anderson’s confidence.
Despite his trials, Anderson broke the OSU single season passing record with 3,313 yards and broke the single season touchdown record with 25 TDs. He threw for 250 or more yards in eight of 13 games and over 300 yards in four of those eight.
With a year of experience under his belt the Scappoose high graduate will lead the Beavers to another winning season.
The big quarterback reportedly lost 15 pounds in order to be more mobile. Anderson showed his newfound speed by attempting to block a defender on a bootleg, in addition to embarrassing the now departed linebacker Chaz Scott on a scramble when he pulled up as Scott flew by into the padded wall of the practice facility.
Anderson did not pull away from his counterparts during spring practice, despite balls being consistently overthrown and underthrown on curl and/or out patterns.
The Oregon native does excel at throwing the deep ball though as he demonstrated the art several times by hooking up with a streaking James Newson or Jayson Boyd.
Perhaps the biggest complaint against Anderson is his tendency to lock onto a receiver and throw to him no matter what. He unfortunately displayed this tendency throughout the fifteen practices in April and rarely checked off his reads, although he improved as the month progressed.
Anderson also has a tendency to move his feet, affectionately known as happy feet, when under pressure that causes him to throw off his back foot.
With a year under his belt and vigilant teaching by Jonathan Smith, Anderson will improve his footwork and reads.
He displayed improvement in ticking off his receivers during the spring game, which could be a good sign of things to come.
If Anderson avoids throwing off his back foot and goes through his reads he will break more Oregon State passing records.
Rothenfluh had a solid spring showing, making good reads, but lacking the scrambling ability and arm strength.
The junior rarely makes mistakes, but rarely makes big plays. A year in the system gives Rothenfluh a leg up on the competition.
Two freshmen fiercely competed with Rothenfluh throughout April.
Red shirt freshman Anton Clarkson had a good spring as he showcased his skills for the first time to Mike Riley and his staff.
Clarkson has as very strong arm and is possibly the fastest quarterback on the team. Numerous times the smaller quarterback was flushed out of the pocket where he picked up a decent amount of yardage. A great example of his scrambling ability was during the spring game when he picked up 30-yards on a broken play.
His height is the California native’s only weakness. At 6-1, he cannot see over the offensive line. Jonathan Smith had the same problem, but he had a great career at O-State.
Danny Southwick and Anton Clarkson both showed they are Pac-10 material.
Locked in a battle with Clarkson is freshman Danny Southwick who signed with the Beavers after returning from his Mormon mission.
Southwick impressed the coaches with his strong arm and football smarts. During the Beavers first scrimmage he threw two touchdowns, one 34-yard pass to Travis Brown and one 70-yard pass to Josh Hawkins.
Although Southwick was impressive during spring practice, look for Riley to red shirt him. Rothenfluh and Clarkson are both adequate backups to Anderson. There is no need to have three backup quarterbacks.
Two smaller freshman players, Colt Charles and Brandon Jones, scrimmaged with the third team.
Charles received the least amount of playing time out of the six quarterbacks. Most likely Charles will be moved to another position.
Jones showed quickness during the spring game as he scrambled on a bootleg, but failed to score. The southpaw lacks the arm strength required to play in the Pac-10 and will probably be moved to another position.
BeaverFootball.com’s Quarterback Rankings
1. Derek Anderson, Junior (6-6, 227) – Has all the physical tools to become an All-Pac-10 quarterback. Should be better at making reads with a year of experience under his belt.
2. Adam Rothenfluh, Junior (6-3, 198) – Capable backup who will not make mistakes, but will not make any big plays.
3. Anton Clarkson, Freshman (6-1, 212) – Has a cannon for an arm and could compete for the starting position in two years. Very mobile, makes decent reads, and has excellent footwork.
4. Danny Southwick, Freshman (6-2, 200) – Smart quarterback who will compete for the starting position in two years. Fairly mobile, decent arm, and makes great reads.
5. Colt Charles, Freshman (6-0, 178) – Small player who has an uphill battle to receive playing time.
6. Brandon Jones, Freshman (5-10, 215) – Southpaw with a soft touch.