Mineola’s Anderson Twins Reach College Goal After Whirlwind Spike In Recruiting Interest
MINEOLA -- The goal for Mineola offensive tackles and twin brothers Austin Anderson and Riley Anderson was set a long time ago.
Their father played college football and they had seen others donning the the orange jerseys extend their playing careers at least four more years. The big linemen wanted to get there as well.
And now the opportunity has shown itself. In a seven-day span, the junior linemen picked up a combined nine Division I offers featuring Texas Tech as a common big school option.
"It's been awesome," right tackle Austin Anderson (6-4, 289) said during the Yellowjackets' athletics period Wednesday. "When we were in seventh grade, we made a goal that we wanted to play Division I football. I made that goal and I've worked hard ever since to accomplish it. God blessed us with great size and the ability to do it. I didn't want to waste my talent. That particular goal has been accomplished. Now we've just got to keep working and keep getting better."
The Andersons' value in a recruiting sense has skyrocketed.
Tulsa offered the twins on Feb. 3. The very next day, Big Ten Conference member Northwestern invited Austin Anderson to join their team. North Texas offered both Sunday, Texas State followed on Monday and then Texas Tech joined the group to give the duo at least one power five conference scholarship apiece.
At the rate it's been going, the duo had to be half expecting another college to follow suit after workouts and the remainder of the school day wrapped up.
"We were at school for the first one," left tackle Riley Anderson (6-5, 287) said. "They messaged us to call them. We called them and Tulsa was like, 'We want to offer you a full scholarship.' I almost started crying. It was an awesome feeling and it's still exciting."
East Texas has seen this trend more than a few times in its history.
While not brothers, the latest players to see a quick burst of recruiting interest were Nacogdoches defensive backs Jaylon Lane and Brandon Jones.
Lane, specifically, emerged last spring as a rising senior with early interest from Louisiana Tech and South Alabama. Mississippi took the plunge as the first major conference school to offer in March, and he quickly became the region's leading scholarship holder with 36 choices by the middle of May. He peaked with 38 unique college choices but is uncommitted due to an off-the-field issue.
Jones, a current junior, jumped from six offers in March to 34 choices today. Mostly through the spring and summer months.
It will be tough for the Andersons to catch Jones' volume of options. However, the Texas Tech offer made Austin Anderson the second-most recruited junior in East Texas with five schools in pursuit. Riley Anderson moved into a tie with Gilmer defender and Texas commitment Demarco Boyd as the third-most recruited player in terms of scholarships with four.
"These two guys have earned the attention they're getting," Mineola head coach Joe Drennon said. "I'm going to tell you that. They're here at 6:15 every morning lifting weights and they're always here after school. They're doing all the right things to be in the position they're in. For me personally, it's great to see your kids get the recognition they deserve and hopefully move on and better their careers one day."
When you really boil it down, there are two types of high school linemen.
There are the bodies, big and heavy guys, that bog down defenders. Then there are frame guys who have significant height advantages and more or less carry the weight well before being refined with training.
The Anderson twins fit into the latter category. They're explosive off the line of scrimmage and have a bit of a mean streak, especially on downfield blocks.
"Austin, as a freshman, came out here and his foot work was really good," Drennon said. "He started a few games for us on the varsity level. I saw then that he was going to be a pretty good player. But you could see both their body types. That's the thing. A lot of times these colleges are looking at what these players could project out to be. Both of those guys had the bodies and then the work ethic. I knew both were going to turn into pretty good football players.
"Riley still had things to work on, but he's done it. Right now, there's probably not a dime difference between the two. They're awfully good players."
Another selling point, the players are competing with each other for top 10 spots in their junior class. Both are currently ranked among the top 11 academically.
Mineola's use of the players as tackles does not mean much to college coaches though.
Universities recruit the best players available, develop them in strength programs and then recast the linemen to a role that best serves the overall position group. A handful of college players will play all the offensive line positions before exhausting eligibility as circumstances and the sheer amount of available players change.
"The Texas Tech coaches think we can play any position on the line," Austin Anderson said. "I've had coaches say work on snapping. I might be playing guard, possibly."
"It really just depends on what a school needs for the year," Riley Anderson interjected. "Just the best fit during a season."
Will They Stick Together?
The brothers have the same understanding of the recruiting process and identical goals of committing to a school before the 2015 Mineola season.
The players visited Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State together during the college football season. They had more plans, but Saturday high school playoff games nixed other trips.
Naturally, the twins have mulled over the idea of playing together since they already share four common offers. Not every set of college-bound family members have the option of staying together for an additional four to five years.
They have about the same grasp on the same schools with exception to Austin Anderson's solo Northwestern offer.
But the Andersons don't consider themselves a package deal.
"We've talked about it and I'm going to make my own decision," Austin Anderson said. "Riley is going to do the same. If it happens to be the same place, that's awesome. But if not, we'll just move on with our lives and do it that way."
They will have at least one more year together. A season of new expectations from Yellowjackets fans after last year's Class 3A Division I state championship game appearance.
"It's been awesome and it's really competitive between us getting ready for it," Riley Anderson said. "Sometimes we'll get a little mad at each other. When someone beats the other in squats or something, it makes us mad and makes us work harder. Neither of us likes losing."