Son of former NFL star takes his own path

Jair Anderson (left) and his father (247sports)

Jair Anderson (left) and his father (247sports)

Willie Anderson, known as “Big Stew” to some, was a year removed from playing in the NFL when his son, Jair Anderson, approached him wanting to play football in the eighth grade.

Naturally, he thought his son would find success on the offensive line. After all, Willie had made a living in the NFL at offensive tackle for 13 seasons. But when he heard Jair wanted to play quarterback or wide receiver, he couldn’t believe it.

“His friends laughed and told me he was the fastest kid at his school,” Willie recalls of a car ride home with Jair and his friends. “I told them, ‘If he’s the fastest kid at your school, you have the worst school.’”

Jair Anderson with Tech's Paul Johnson (Special for AJC)

Jair Anderson with Tech’s Paul Johnson (Special for AJC)

Now a 3-star cornerback and wide receiver, Jair Anderson has garnered interest from several top-tier programs and currently holds over 20 offers. And the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder says his father can’t escape an age-old question.

“They’ll say, “‘Big Stew, how’d you push out a wide receiver?’” said Jair jokingly. “But my mom is shorter, so, it all evened out.”

And it’s certainly worked out for the Northview High School standout, too. After a busy summer schedule – one that included stops to UGA, Clemson and Georgia Tech, among others – Anderson is closing in on announcing his list of leading schools in the next few weeks, one that is likely to include the Yellow Jackets.

“They’ve definitely gone after me the last couple of months,” he said. “I feel good about them.”

Anderson first visited Georgia Tech last April. He later participated in a camp and ran an unofficial 4.45 in the 40-yard dash. He says he competed well in one-on-one drills, too, which just about sealed it for the coaching staff. Anderson received an offer from the Jackets shortly after on June 6.

Jair acknowledged to the AJC that Georgia Tech has stood out because they’ve looked past his 3-star rating, while other big programs, he says, often times indicate that they’re waiting on a higher-ranked recruit.

“I think Georgia Tech overlooked that part,” he said. “They overlooked the fact that I didn’t have as high of a ranking as the other kids, so, I’m always going to be thankful for it.”

Added Anderson: “But I’m also thankful for the other coaches for giving me the opportunity to be evaluated. Just because they said they’re going to wait doesn’t mean I’m going to kick them off my list.”

The lack of stars hasn’t stopped the two-way player from improving his game, either, and programs have certainly taken notice. After attending UGA’s “Dawg Night” a few weeks ago, Bulldogs defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt recognized Jair’s development.

“Coach Pruitt told us that the staff said they haven’t seen one kid from the state that has made the kind of leap of improvement like Jair has,” his father said. “That’s a tremendous testament to the time and work he’s put in. He’s made a lot of sacrifices.”

Anderson will start at both corner and wide receiver at Northview this upcoming year, and his father is confident his game will continue to improve, as do some of the schools that have recruited him.

“Georgia Tech is a school that stands out that told him that,” his father said. “They said, ‘We believe your best football is ahead of you and that’s why you have a committable offer here’. Cincinnati said the same thing.”

Anderson tells the AJC that he will visit Georgia Tech in the coming weeks.

— By Chuck Kingsbury, Special for the AJC

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