WVU LB Anderson makes Goode reminisce
MHS graduate starting to figure out college ball

The Dominion Post

MIAMI — Excuse Najee Goode if he stops, shakes his head and smiles from time to time during practice.
When the WVU redshirt senior linebacker isn’t taking first-team snaps on the field at Barry University, the M o u n - taineers’ practice site in M i a m i leading up to Wednesd ay ’s O r a n g e Bowl, he’s probably critiquing Tyler Anderson’s play. And reminiscing.
As Goode prepares for his final game as Mountaineer, he can’t help but reflect as he watches Anderson, a redshirt sophomore from Morgantown, mature as a player.
“Just watching him grow — and not saying anything to him but seeing how he does things — it’s like watching myself grow up all over again throughout college,” Goode said with a smile. “It’s kind of funny, because he is learning like I did, and he’s taking advantage of a lot of opportunities.
“We’re like the same person almost, just a few years removed.”
Like Anderson, Goode came in as a walk-on weakside linebacker hungry for a chance to shine in Division I-A football. Goode was given chances to play as a redshirt freshman and sophomore and has developed into a two-year starter and all-Big East first-team selection.
It was two or three years ago, though, that the football light in Goode’s head started to flicker. It was then that he was grasping the concepts of what it would take to play and succeed in coordinator Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 stack defense.
Now he sees that happening with Anderson. Goode said Anderson has “all the athletic abilities,” and he’s starting to produce on the football field. Anderson, the former Morgantown High standout, has played special teams in every game the past two seasons. But in three games this season, including WVU’s season-ending 30-27 win at South Florida, Anderson has seen significant second-half snaps at strongside linebacker. He has 17 tackles, including four for loss, this year, but Anderson said he’s made the greatest strides through his mental approach to the game.
“My first year, I thought about everything [I did wrong],” Anderson said while shaking his head. “I’d take one rep and I would just worry about everything I had just done.
“Now, there’s going to be mistakes — they are always going to happen — but you just have to work on them. If you made a mistake, you can’t let that affect the next play.”
By understanding the Mountaineers’ system, Anderson feels like he’s becoming the college player he always knew he could become. That’s the reason he chose to walk on at WVU rather than accept an offer to a number of smaller schools. That’s the same journey Goode took from his Cleveland home to WVU.
“Now when I see a play, I know where everybody is at and I know what everyone else is supposed to do too — and not just me,” Anderson said. “I know where the safeties are supposed to be, what the linemen are supposed to do, and everything.
“That enables me to react to the ball and just go and just play football like a normal player.”
Goode said Anderson will see receive more snaps against Clemson, but the fifth-year senior promises his pupil’s best football lies ahead of him the next two years.
Anderson hopes that is the case, saying that his goal all along has been to prove his worth on this stage, and not just to have that walk-on label removed from his name.
“I came here to be a player,” Anderson said. “I didn’t come here to earn a scholarship. What they told [me] is if I came here I had an opportunity, so I came here to be a player. That’s what I am going to do.”
Receiving the opportunity to play in a Bowl Championship Series game is why Anderson chose his hometown university.
“Najee was telling me how much fun [BCS games] are before the season started, and man, it’s a great opportunity,” Anderson said. “It’s another level and it’s against a team outside of the conference, a big team like Clemson. We’re excited.”

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post
WVU linebacker Tyler Anderson takes a knee during practice, in Miami.

Najee Goode