Robby Anderson set to make most of chance

Robby Anderson is back at Temple, and he had the perfect analogy for what has been an on-again-off-again relationship with the football program he has left twice. “It’s like a girl you loved and you get her back and treat her so much better,” said Anderson.

Robby Anderson is back at Temple, and he had the perfect analogy for what has been an on-again-off-again relationship with the football program he has left twice.

“It’s like a girl you loved and you get her back and treat her so much better,” said Anderson.

The senior wide receiver is looking to recapture the magic of his sophomore year and improve on it. Anderson didn’t play last season for academic reasons, spending the year taking courses at a community college in his native Florida and re-enrolling at Temple for the summer session this year.

It was his second departure from the program.

After leaving the team voluntarily following the spring semester in 2013 where he was working as a defensive back, Anderson returned late in the summer and was inserted at wide receiver.

He didn’t play until Game 3, didn’t have his first catch until Week 4 – when he had two receptions for 17 yards – and didn’t start until Week 5. But he still pulled in 44 receptions for 791 yards and nine touchdowns and had one of his best games in a last-second loss to Central Florida, one of the top teams in the country.

“What happened in 2013 happened by accident,” said Anderson. “That was like five games. To have 12-13 games is a whole other story. My goal is 100 yards a game every week, two touchdowns every week, produce on special teams.

“I have a great wide receiver coach in coach (Frisman Jackson), a better receiver group than I had before that is now pushing me, and (quarterback) P.J. (Walker) in my corner. They want me to be great. I’m hoping to have the first 1,000-yard receiving season in Temple history. I’m hoping to be a Heisman finalist and be one of the best players in college football. The sky’s the limit.”

Walker, who was a true freshman during Anderson’s breakout year, said he has seen a more motivated receiver this time around.

“He’s a lot better mentally,” said Walker. “He’s practicing (harder) than he did before. He’s out there working as hard or harder than any player we have.”

When Anderson left the University last year, he vowed to return. And after a year at community college, he also told himself he was going to ace all three summer courses when he came back to Temple.

“The whole time I was gone, I noticed the change within myself,” said Anderson. “I went through situations that really opened my eyes, like getting kicked out of school.

“I knew that Temple was the place for me. This is where I need to be, where I want to be. I wanted to be great. I missed my teammates, missed my family here. It turned out I needed to get two As and a B to be eligible, but my goal was three As and I achieved it. I’ve always been able to get good grades, it was a matter of being lazy.”

Anderson said he watched every Temple game in Florida last year, partly as a fan and partly thinking about returning to the team and helping them turn some of those close losses around.

“If it wasn’t on TV, I pulled it up on ESPN3,” said Anderson. ”I watched some of those heart-breaking losses and when they didn’t get the bowl bid, it was heart-breaking for me as well because I wanted them to get what they deserved.”

Once he was back on the Temple practice field, playing the wide receiver position came back to him in a hurry. Head coach Matt Rhule has talked about Anderson’s competitiveness and how it raises his level and rubs off on the rest of the team.

“He’s looked back to form,” said Rhule.

Anderson will have competition for playing time at wideout. As he noted himself, the position has improved with the addition of Adonis Jennings and the development of many of the other wide receivers on the team.

He feels there will be plenty of balls to go around in what is expected to be a vastly improved offense.

“There’s more than enough,” said Anderson with a smile.

As quickly as his star rose two years ago, Anderson was gone. And now, somewhat improbably, he is back and possibly better than ever.

How Anderson finishes his enigmatic career is a story that will be told in the coming months. But all that matters to the senior is that he has a chance to write the final chapter.

“It feels great to be back, it’s a blessing,” said Anderson. “I thank God for everything. I always knew I would come back. I never wanted to leave. The whole time I was gone, all I wanted to do was come back.

“People don’t always get second chances. I was blessed to get this one.”

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