Daniel House talks with Utah wide receiver Dres Anderson, about life, family, and his love for the game of football.
The sun rises on Riverside, California and Dres Anderson knows that he is going to work harder than anyone at his position. He distinctly remembers a knee injury that ended his senior season at Utah. Anderson wasn’t going to let an injury stand in the way of his dream. It just added more fuel to a fire that is already blazing. It doesn’t matter if he is working on route running, strength training, or speed work, Dres Anderson is going to perform the extra repetitions needed to take his game to the next level.
Dres has always had a love for sports since he was a young child. He has played baseball, basketball, and track for most of his life. He loved all of those sports, but his dad, Willie ‘Flipper’ Anderson and uncle, Paco Craig, played a major role in his love for the game of football. Flipper played 10 seasons in the NFL (Rams, Colts, Redskins, Broncos) and was a Super Bowl champion. He holds the record for the most receiving yards (336) in a single-game and was successful during his stint in the NFL. As for Paco Craig, he played one season for the Detroit Lions and was most known for his time playing wide receiver at UCLA. Dres attributes much of his early success to the mentorship of these two individuals.
“My dad has always given me advice and tips on being a receiver. My uncle Paco has been working with me since I was younger because he lives out in California and is 15-20 minutes away from me. We would always work growing up when I was in high school and sometimes when I came back home from college. He would always give me tips on things to be better and how to run routes. They have had a great influence on me. Any time I need advice on something, they always have the answer or have some good feedback for me. My dad and Paco have always been good mentors for me,” Anderson explained.
Dres has always considered himself a playmaker, but he remembers one moment that sparked his awe and fantasy of scoring touchdowns. At six years old, young Dres was a running back in one of his first seasons of tackle football. He recalls the first play he ever ran on a football field.
“The first game I played was tackle football at six years old. The first time I touched the ball; I scored. It was a sweep and I was at running back. When I was that little, I played running back until I got to the age where we could start throwing it around. They gave me a sweep and I just basically outran everybody. I just ran straight up the field and scored a touchdown and I just knew that from then on, I wanted to be a person that scored touchdowns. I just loved being a running back at that age. I played both ways and it was fun playing defense, but just the thrill of scoring a touchdown took me over the top. It just makes everything you do in practice a reward and I just love doing that for my team. From that moment on, I knew football was what I wanted to do,” Anderson reminisced.
At the high school level, Anderson didn’t start receiving offers until a breakthrough junior season at John W. North high school. He played primarily on offense, but was used at cornerback and safety in emergency situations. As a junior in 2008, he hauled in 29 catches for 607 yards and six touchdowns. At that point, he knew that he had the talent and skills necessary to take his game to the next level. After the season, recruiting offers started to circulate his way. The day he first heard from Utah, he never had watched them play football. He knew nothing about the university, but he would quickly fall in love with their program. Anderson thought about attending UCLA and following in the footsteps of his father and uncle, but they never made an offer.
“At the start of the recruiting process I didn’t know where I was going to go. When Utah first starting talking to me, I didn’t even know Utah was a state. I didn’t even know that much about Utah. That is until I seen them play against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That’s the only time I’ve seen Utah play before until I did research on them. Before I really committed myself to going there, I never knew that much about Utah. I had times growing up where I felt like I wanted to go to UCLA. When I was in high school, I used to get UCLA tickets and I would always go to their games. To be honest, when they were recruiting me, even though they didn’t offer me, I really didn’t have much interest in them because they weren’t that successful at the time. I wanted to go to someone that was winning and going to bowl games and after doing my research on Utah and taking a trip up there, I knew it was a great fit for me,” Anderson explained.
Anderson proved to make a great decision and was successful during his time with Utah. He is Utah's fifth all-time leading receiver with 2,077 career yards. He notched seven career 100-yard games, which is tied for fourth in school history. Finally, he accumulated 17 career touchdown catches, ranking sixth all-time in the history of the school. He accomplished all of this while missing the majority of his senior season with a season-ending knee injury. He credits his coaches and strength and conditioning assistant at Utah for making him mentally tough and resilient.
“They [Utah] drill mental toughness into you. They teach you to fight beyond your strengths and even if you are winded or tired, and you don’t have anything in the tank, you give everything you have for your team. Going into Utah, I really didn’t have as good of mental toughness. I never really went through the hard workouts that I have up at college. Going there, I found out what it meant to push yourself and even if things aren’t looking right, to give everything you got to make a positive situation out of certain circumstances,” exclaimed Anderson.
Anderson spent time playing in the Pac-12 and he believes that after playing against top-tier competition, his game can translate to the next level. He is highly regarded amongst his coaches and teammates for being a big-time threat when he is on the field. He believes that playing against elite-level cornerbacks over the last four years will help him excel at the next level.
“I want to be a big time offensive threat. In the Pac-12 you go against great athletes and tremendous talent. I feel like I’ve seen some guys go to the NFL in the Pac-12 that I’ve played against and I know I can excel at the next level. It’s more of a brain game at the next level and you have to be smart and an intelligent student of the game. I want to make sure that I enhance that and I know that going to the next level I should fare well,” said Anderson.
After competing at Utah, Anderson decided to sign with Priority Sports and is represented by agent Kenny Zuckerman.
“Kenny Zuckerman is great. You can tell he has been in the game for a long, long, time. He came to me with the utmost confidence and even though I was hurt at the time he visited me, he explained to me that he knew I was one of the best wide receivers in this draft. He told me why and he expressed confidence in me. He never had any doubt. He has no doubt that I can overcome anything. He knows my upside at the next level and I really appreciate him for that. I’ve done lots of research on them and they’ve been one of the top sports agencies in the NFL for years and years,” Anderson explained.
He not only admires his agent, but he has developed a high level of respect for everyone at Priority Sports.
“I’ve asked coaches about Priority and nobody can find anything [bad]. You hear about a whole bunch of scams and players getting bills they never even knew about. None of those types of things have happened at Priority. Everybody on staff is great. I’ve got a whole team of people that do great things for me and I really appreciate that,” Anderson said.
Anderson didn’t do any speed work at the NFL Scouting Combine, but will hold a private workout on April 11th. He didn’t work at the Utah pro-day in an effort to be 100% recovered from his knee injury. Anderson has teams ready to attend this workout on April 11th and Dres indicated he has talked with all 32 teams at some point during the draft process. His knee feels about 95% and he should be 100% when coaches, scouts, and GM’s visit his private workout.
“I just wanted to make sure my knee was going to be a 100% and I could be strong in all my drills. I wanted more reps with running routes and those things, so we decided to push back my pro-day. However, the combine was a great experience and I’m happy I got to see some head coaches, GM’s, and people that work with organizations. It’s just really good to meet those people and shake hands with them, along with talking to them about football and life.”
Anderson knows the NFL draft is approaching quickly and he is anxiously waiting for his dream to become a reality. He doesn’t quite know how it will feel when he answers the phone with a team ready to select him.
“I’m looking forward to my name coming up [on draft day] soon. I can’t wait for the moment when someone is calling my phone and a team is selecting me. I just can’t wait to know what city I’m going to, what team I’m going to, and I’m ready to get to work. I feel like I’ve been mentally preparing myself for this moment. I’ve dreamt about it and thought about it, but until that team is calling my phone and it’s a reality, I don’t know how I’m going to take it. I know it is going to be an exciting time for my family and I’m looking forward to it,” concluded Anderson.