TCU RB Darius Anderson hungry to return after season-ending injury
TCU running back Darius Anderson didn’t get the nickname “Jet” by accident.
Anderson sprinting down the sidelines for a 93-yard touchdown run against Ohio State ranked among the most memorable plays from TCU’s 2018 season. It set the record for longest run in TCU history and, at the time, was the longest play by an opposing player in Ohio State’s storied history.
Anderson flashed in seasons before that, too, with a 70-yard TD run against Texas his freshman season in 2016, and a 42-yard TD run against Oklahoma State his sophomore season in 2017.
The problem for Anderson, though, has been staying healthy and consistent throughout his college career. Early signs are encouraging for that to change his senior season.
“Jet is the fastest I’ve ever seen him,” coach Gary Patterson said on Wednesday. “I’ve never seen Jet run like Jet’s running right now. Not as a sophomore … this is the best I’ve seen Jet run.”
That’s a significant statement for a TCU team that will be looking to establish a running game early and often this season. The Frogs finished last season ranked seventh in the Big 12 in rushing offense (156.6 yards per game).
But a healthy Anderson, alongside fellow senior Sewo Olonilua, gives TCU a pair of running backs who have a chance to be NFL Draft picks next spring. That’s a luxury not many programs have.
TCU would like to run plays with Anderson and Olonilua in the lineup together, too, something that has been difficult given Anderson’s injury history.
“We’d love to have them both on the field,” co-offensive coordinator Curtis Luper said earlier this month. “If we had 100 snaps, we’d love to have both of those guys on the field for 70 snaps.”
That was the plan last year until Anderson sustained an injury the first day in pads. He missed most of fall camp, and wasn’t 100 percent until the Ohio State game.
Against the Buckeyes, Anderson shined with 154 rushing yards on 12 carries.
The following week at Texas, Anderson injured himself again and finished with just 15 yards rushing on eight carries.
This year, though, is a different story.
“He’s good to go,” Luper said. “He’s as healthy as he’s been since probably his sophomore year.”
Luper pointed to Anderson’s sophomore season when he had 26 carries for 160 yards and three TDs at then-No. 6 Oklahoma State in 2017.
Anderson earned several honors for that performance, including the Big 12’s offensive player of the week, the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award player of the week and Walter Camp national player offensive player of the week.
Anderson has that type of game-changing ability when healthy. It’s why he’s on the preseason watch lists for the Doak Walker Award and the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award.
Anderson was on pace for a 1,000-yard season as a sophomore before an injury cut short his season, finishing with 768 yards rushing and eight TDs. Injuries plagued his season last year, too, as he had 598 yards rushing and three TDs in 11 games.
But this year has the makings of being different. As long as one thing happens.
“For Darius, it’s just staying healthy,” Luper said.