Visit Sells Anderson on Nittany Lions

The versatile Maryland running back will follow in his father's footsteps at Penn State. He had previously committed to the Terrapins.

Less than 72 hours after arriving at University Park for an official visit to Penn State, Gov. Thomas Johnson High (Frederick, Md.) Class of 2013 running back Richy Anderson Jr. flipped his commitment from Maryland to Penn State.

Anderson will follow in the steps of his father, Richie Anderson, who played for Penn State in the early 1990s, and becomes the 12th member of Penn State's Class of 2013.

“I guess I really started thinking about it on the way back from the visit this weekend,” Anderson said Sunday night. “Just being around the atmosphere and the people, it's more than football to them, and it's more than football to me. Even when they [the Lions] were down 20 points [to Ohio State Saturday night] the stands were still full. Penn State gives me the chance to excel not just in football, but after it and outside of it, too. There's just something about it.”

Anderson will graduate from high school early and enroll at Penn State in January. So he will actually count against the PSU class that signed in 2012. Anderson joins tight end Adam Breneman and defensive back Jordan Smith as commits who intend to enroll early.

“The one thing that excites me the most is strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald,” Anderson said. “He's really the reason I want to get in there early and often, because it will help me get in the best shape possible right away”

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound back began his visit at University Park Friday afternoon, when he took in the sights and scenes around Penn State's campus, including a meeting with academic advisors to learn more about his desired major, criminal justice. Academics were one of the many factors that helped sway Anderson's decision.

“I sat down with an academic adviser and a professor up there, and they just gave me a bunch of different options,” Anderson said. “Their curriculum is different from other programs because they get you ready for more fields. Some schools you might come out and only be able to be a police officer because that's all you're certified in. But at Penn State, they make it easier for you to choose from more things that you might want to do.”

Anderson spoke with Maryland head coach Randy Edsel Sunday night before making his decision public.

“The toughest part was calling Coach Edsel, but I wanted to make sure they heard it from my mouth first before everyone else found out,” Anderson said. “They wished me well and wished me luck, and told me they supported my decision.”

The other side of that equation began with a call to Penn State defensive line coach, Larry Johnson, who excitedly passed the phone to Nittany Lions' running backs coach Charles London, who handed it off to head coach Bill O'Brien to learn the news of Penn State's newest commitment.

“I called Coach Johnson first, and he told me they were really excited, and then I talked to Coach London and Coach O'Brien, and they were really excited, too,” Anderson said. “I basically left my phone in my room for a half hour while I sat with my dad and talked about the positives and negatives of making this decision, and then I called everyone.”

Speaking of O'Brien, the first-year head coach and offensive coordinator gets a multi-talented back in Anderson, one who fits both Anderson's and O'Brien's ideal situation for a running back.

“It's kind of what I always dreamed of, being in college and being a back that plays receiver. It was a really big part of my decision,” Anderson said. “I can move out of the backfield and do different things, go out into the slot, or come back into the backfield and run the ball. Either way, there's always a mismatch. I know a lot of different spots because I run a similar offense at my high school.”

With just two months separating Anderson from his arrival at University Park, he is ready for the next challenge in his new home.

“I was just blown away that when we were on campus at 10 a.m. Saturday, there were already people on campus walking around in Penn State jerseys, and the atmosphere was just awesome,” Anderson said. “I just love the school.”

FOX Sports NEXT's Brian Dohn contributed to this report.

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