WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Football had been a part of Ryan Anderson’s life since he was just a small kid playing Pop Warner.
So much so, the Wake redshirt sophomore center was shocked about what was taking place moments before the Deacs kicked off the season four weeks ago against Tulane.
“I’ve never been nervous going into a game before and I’m really nervous right now,” Anderson told teammate Cam Serigne.
The initial nervousness turned into positive performance by the ever-improving Wake Forest offensive line, which has helped lead to the first 3-0 start for the program since 2008.
“It’s weird,” Anderson said when asked about how it feels. “It’s a really good feeling. It just feels good everywhere knowing that you’re playing good and we haven’t lost a game yet.”
Anderson said the atmosphere around campus is definitely different this season.
“I came in the spring the first year, and that was with the whole staff transfer over and everything. That was my first semester of college, just getting thrown all into it,” he said. “We weren’t winning, obviously, and around campus there seemed to be a lot of disappointment about the football team.”
Then he started last season by serving a five-game suspension.
“It was tough last year to sit there for the first five games and watch. I tried to be the best teammate I could be. I tried to stay as involved in the game as I could,” Anderson said. “Last year, I came in and started in my first game back — against Boston College.”
Despite the missed time, Wake coach Dave Clawson was confident in Anderson’s ability, and knew he would be an important part of the offensive line rotation.
“It’s really good to be out there with everyone and not have to stay on the sidelines trying to coach guys up,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s grandfather is former Rutgers coach Dick Anderson, and his uncle Jeff Anderson played linebacker at Penn State. His father, Ken Anderson, played football and baseball in high school, but settled on baseball at Penn State.
Ryan toyed with lacrosse and golf in high school, while also playing football, but eventually his grandfather talked him out of pursuing the links.
“Play something that will actually help you in football,” his grandfather told him. “You don’t want to walk 18 holes.”
Though Ryan was born in State College, he moved to Raleigh by the fourth grade.
His next door neighbor was a Wake Forest grad and fan, and it was watching the 2006 Orange Bowl that turned Anderson onto the Deacs.
Which goes to show how important success on the field becomes as you attempt to start building solid recruiting classes, for the Deacs are still reaping rewards from their magical run a decade ago.
Now it’s up to Anderson and the offensive line to help make that happen yet again.