Justin Anderson’s career resurrected under UGA line coach Will Friend

Georgia senior Justin "Bean" Anderson, running during practice this week in Tampa, will start his 14th consecutive game at right tackle during Monday's Outback Bowl. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

Georgia senior Justin "Bean" Anderson, running during practice this week in Tampa, will start his 14th consecutive game at right tackle during Monday's Outback Bowl. (UGA photo by Steven Colquitt)

TAMPA – Justin Anderson doesn’t make any bones about it. Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend, he said, “saved my career.”

“He did,” said the Bulldogs’ senior right tackle. “When he came in, he just knew how to coach me. He knew how to work with me. I can’t thank him enough.”

Friend, who joined the Bulldogs as offensive line coach last February, accepted Anderson’s request to move back to offense from defensive line, where he had spent the previous season. Fast-forward to Monday’s Outback Bowl game against Michigan State, Anderson will start his 14th game at right tackle. Beyond that, he’s expected to continue his career in the NFL.

“He plays hard every week. He practices hard. He’s been a joy to coach,” Friend said of the player friends and family call “Bean.”He’s a dang good football player. But I don’t know how far he’s come. From Day 1 I’ve heard that but since I’ve been with him he’s been all about hard work and done a good job. I’m proud of Bean.”

Exiting his junior season, Anderson found himself in the kind of football purgatory that has trapped many a college player. By every account an exceptional athlete with SEC-caliber size and strength, Anderson nonetheless was a man without a position.

After playing his first two seasons on the offensive line, Anderson heartily accepted a move to defense. But about the time he got comfortable at noseguard, he suffered a debilitating turf-toe injury that sidelined him for most of the season. He ended up playing in one game and recorded one tackle.

“It was rough,” a 6-foot-5, 342-pound senior from Ocilla. “When I was asked to played defensive line, I was excited about it. I prayed about it. I said, ‘God, if this is something for me, then by all means please let me excel at it.’ I go out and had a good first few days in camp. Then I got hurt. I took that as a sign. Maybe this ain’t for you.”

A preliminary discussion with former offensive line coach Stacy Searels about moving back to the side of the ball was met with disinterest. Then Searels left to join the Texas Longhorns last January.

“I found out we were getting a coaching change and I thought, ‘hey, this is my time to get a fresh start,’” Anderson said. “So I took advantage of it.”

Friend, admittedly “looking for bodies” anyway, told Anderson they’d give him a look in the spring.

“I was a little slow,” Anderson said of spring ball. “I mean, I was in a lot of pain, you know. But [Friend] didn’t pressure me that much. He told me to come out and do the best I could and that’s what I did.”

Anderson exited spring practice without any setbacks, continued to rehab and, by summer workouts, was back to full speed.

“When camp came, I was 100 percent. I was ready to go and I’ve been going ever since,” he said.

It wasn’t instant success for Anderson. Both he and left tackle Cordy Glenn struggled in the opener against Boise State, which recorded six sacks. And there were some major breakdowns in the South Carolina game as well.

But the Bulldogs finally got the loose ends tightened down and the offensive line has played solid the rest of the way.

“Coach T and I were just talking about those two big guys,” head coach Mark Richt said this week. “We were talking about how Cordy was very close to possibly taking a shot at the NFL last year and Justin was playing noseguard and had been injured the whole time. We needed them to play and to stay healthy. They did and it’s been a blessing for us. We might not be here today if those guys didn’t come through.”

Now Anderson is preparing to play his last game as a Bulldog and he’s not sure he wants it to end.

“It’s been my best one yet,” Anderson said. “It’s been fun being a part of this team.”

But more football awaits Anderson. Friend predicts his career will continue in the NFL.

“There’s no question I think he can,” Friend said. “He’s got all the tools. He’s got grown-man strength and talent and he’s a team guy. He’s a quick-twitch kind of athlete so I wouldn’t be surprised if he could play either guard or tackle. That’s their job to decide. But I think he’s a heck of a football player,”

When I first got here I thought it was all guard. But after being with him enough, I thought he could do either one.

93 comments Add your comment

panhandle dawg

January 1st, 2012
12:33 pm

panhandle dawg

January 1st, 2012
12:34 pm

Good for Bean, Irwin County’s finest

ForsythDawg

January 1st, 2012
12:35 pm

Great job this season, Justin! Good luck in the NFL. DGD!

Niceville Dawg

January 1st, 2012
12:36 pm

Ugapip

January 1st, 2012
12:39 pm

Anderson = DGD!

A person SMART enough to know......

January 1st, 2012
12:54 pm

Chip Tower…….. I guess I will make you feel better and post here to get you another #.
It seams ALL the dawg fans are on the TECH BLOGS today. See Tech is so Irrelevant the dawgs have been posting since the game yesterday. Dawgs were posting at 2-3 am. I thought dawgs fans didn’t know Tech existed except the Sat. after Thanksgiving.

KilroyDawg

January 1st, 2012
12:56 pm

Lets go dawgs, beat MSU. Then have a great recruiting year and get ready to make a run in 2012!!!

Roadrunner

January 1st, 2012
1:03 pm

Awesome story of someone who worked hard to get a second chance and when it happened made the best of it! Great job this year Bean. best of luck in the NFL, and GO DAWGS!!

Dawg48

January 1st, 2012
1:04 pm

Keep up the good work Bean!

Go Dawgs!

will

January 1st, 2012
1:06 pm

good to see Bean get it turned around. Having said that, I can’t say I am not excited to have actual tackles playing tackle next year rather than 2 guards.

Best of luck to Cordy and Bean in the league let’s send em out with a W.

A person SMART enough to know......

January 1st, 2012
1:12 pm

see 48 it is better if you are here! Doesn’t it feel like home? LOL No Twinkies for you.

Worm

January 1st, 2012
1:15 pm

Happy for ya’ Bean..Glad to see your hard work come to fruition.

Dawg48

January 1st, 2012
1:23 pm

Smart

Are you going to watch the falcons today?

A person SMART enough to know......

January 1st, 2012
1:28 pm

Yes. I hope Schultz has it live but that means Bradley has the Dawgs.

Truth

January 1st, 2012
1:34 pm

Coach Friend has obviously been a great hire. Good luck Bean!

Dawg48

January 1st, 2012
1:36 pm

Smart

I forgot you you can’t sit at bradley’s bar.

Garner

January 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

We’ll beat MSU tomorrow and gain momentum for next season. I think we have what it takes to win a national title next season. A ferocious defense, a great QB, a good stable of running backs, a young crew of receivers, etc. We’ll also have a lot of confidence. Not making any predictions, just watch out for the Dawgs in 2012.

Garner

January 1st, 2012
2:07 pm

Win over MSU tomorrow, and we’ll start 2012 ranked in the top 12 IMO. We should anyway. We can do it, we just need to hunker down. Our offense is very explosive, Murray is the best QB returning in the SEC, he was the best this past season. 9 of 11 starters returning on defense. We should be very stout up the middle once again with Jenkins having experience, and Geathers as well. Jarvis Jones will be the best defensive player in the SEC. GO DAWGS!

Will Friend was a great hire. To all you haters that questioned him just because he came from UAB. It doesn’t matter what school a coach comes from if he knows how to coach. Obviously Friend knows how to. His O-lines at UAB mauled multiple SEC teams like Tennessee. Look at the talent he has at UGA, and he’ll be mauling SEC D-lines week in and week out.

Preston

January 1st, 2012
2:10 pm

In regards to SMART’s post, calling on all UGA fans to not stoop to the level of techies and stay off their blogs. We have class. Show it.

flo-ri-duh

January 1st, 2012
2:15 pm

Bean is a big and powerful man. He seemed slow and lost earlier in the season but has been much better lately. Good luck Bean.

bitter QB

January 1st, 2012
2:22 pm

@garner—-get rid of the crack pipe——-HUDSON MASON will be the starter after turnover MURRY

—puts UGA in a huge hole in the first half with 3 int—2 fumbles—–

——————-then mason will throw 4 tds in the 2nd half

—————-MURRY HAS A HISTORY of choaking in big games against top 25 teams

————————————–like 0-12 against top 25 teams

Garner

January 1st, 2012
2:28 pm

Hey, we beat Auburn and Tech when they were in the top 25. We can’t help what they do afterwards bitter QB. Sound like a bitter Tech fan. Sorry you can’t beat Georgia.

Garner

January 1st, 2012
2:29 pm

Ain’t my fault Tech sucks.

daddydog

January 1st, 2012
2:34 pm

This season would not be close to what it is without the Juniors that came back (Glenn, Boykin,etc). To keep momentum going juniors need to follow leadership of Jarvis Jones and come back to have a special year.

bitter QB

January 1st, 2012
2:37 pm

@garner—-tell your roommate turd roll to get rid of the three junk cars on your trailer lot

—————you brag about beating ga tech and a drunk all-burn team———you helpless

JDawg1785

January 1st, 2012
2:40 pm

Great story. Best of luck at the next level, Bean!

bitter QB

January 1st, 2012
2:44 pm

now i get it—-garner your really aaron murry——————go dawgs

Old Coach

January 1st, 2012
2:45 pm

@ bitter
You sir are an absolute moron!

Dawg48

January 1st, 2012
2:48 pm

Bitter

If you know so much about UGA quarterbacks get theta names right you dumb DONKEY!

bitter QB

January 1st, 2012
2:53 pm

foolish trolls who continue to support a QB that has great stats against poor teams

——————-im looking for a change—–bring on HUDSON MASON

————and to all the blind loyalist————–talk smack after murry ha shis typical bad game

against mich st—–a top 25 team——–dont throw stones without looking at——FACTS

Dawg48

January 1st, 2012
2:57 pm

^^^^^^^^^^DUMB DONKEY^^^^^^^^^^^

Dawg48

January 1st, 2012
2:58 pm

Does Georgia have a HUDSON MASON on the team?

Garner

January 1st, 2012
2:59 pm

Butter QB, GT’s record vs. UGA is 1-10 in the past 11 seasons. FACTS

UGA76

January 1st, 2012
2:59 pm

If one of our guys has a first round grade, then they should go to the NFL. Anything less that first round should come back and keep working AND also get their degree.

WDE

January 1st, 2012
3:08 pm

Bean best of luck in the NFL, you have always done what was best for the team the trade mark of a DGD !!! Good Luck!

KilroyDawg

January 1st, 2012
3:14 pm

@UGA76
Totally agree. Come back, get your degree, help the Daegs to the promise land in 2012 and get better prepared for the NFL. 2012 starts with a win Monday over MSU. Then finish strong with a Top 5 recruiting class and get ready for to make a run next season. The big Mo starts now. GO DAWGS!!!

KilroyDawg

January 1st, 2012
3:16 pm

Sorry, that’s Dawgs not Daegs.

Bad Dawg

January 1st, 2012
3:21 pm

Garner, fans like you embarrass the dawg nation. How dare you talk about another preseason national championship? Do you know other fans look at this and laugh at homers like you? How about wait until this time next year and see if UGA is in the national championship hunt. Remember 2008 when UGA started #1 and ended playing in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State? We all know how that turned out but let’s focus on the present, UGA plays Michigan State tomorrow. Thoughts?

Jacket99

January 1st, 2012
3:23 pm

Let’s put America back to work this year.

http://cdnapi.kaltura.com/index.php/kwidget/wid/0_04vzdsr5/uiconf_id/5590821

I’m hoping all Jackets and Dawgs involved in construction will watch this video.

Made in America.

Happy New Year to All

KilroyDawg

January 1st, 2012
3:25 pm

@Bad Dawg
The big Mo starts Monday. It can’t be overstated how important a win over a very good MSU team will help with recruiting. This also may help some Juniors on the fence decide to come back and help make a run next year. GO DAWGS! GATA!!

Bad Dawg

January 1st, 2012
3:26 pm

Smart, I did not happen to visit the Tech blogs ( I never go there or post there). So please do not try and generalize all dawg fans as one unit. We are not the same. I actually was rooting for Tech to win the game but they caught some bad breaks. My guess is that the self proclaimed UGA fans that visited the tech blogs are the ones that are homers or hate Tech. Just do not put me and other fans with good sense in that category.

Bad Dawg

January 1st, 2012
3:34 pm

Kilroy, Now there is a good post and I think you are right a win is important for this team on Monday. They will have the satisfaction of knowing they beat at least one quality opponent. This game worries me though because I’m not sure how the coaches and the young players will perform, their team is loaded with veteran players. I think the key will be to use a balanced spread attack on offense and see if the SEC speed can overwhelm them. I do not think UGA will out physical or out coach this team. It is going to come down to the players and how bad they want this game. Also I hope Bobo is creative with his play calling, one of the Mich St defensive players said our offense is “simple” which is kind of embarrasing.

Garner

January 1st, 2012
3:35 pm

Screw you Bad Dawg. You little midget

dawggirl

January 1st, 2012
3:39 pm

I went there, but just to post a couple of positive comments and say that I was sorry they lost the game and I was rooting for them. I hate when all UGA fans are painted with the same brush.

There are those of us that did graduate and are not rednecks.

This will be a very tough game for us tomorrow, and I hope we can play a full 60 minutes in all phases of the game.

KilroyDawg

January 1st, 2012
3:44 pm

@Bad Dawg
I agree. These two teams match up pretty evenly. I believe that we must set up the passing game with a dominate run game. I know that sounds simplistic but it is so true. MSU is strong on their defensive front and if the o-line can create some seams AND our running backs run like their hair is on fire and their a$$e$ are catching I think we show the naysayers that UGA should be a team to watch. Hope our players realize the importance of this game. GO DAWGS!!!

WDE

January 1st, 2012
3:49 pm

Hey did I miss a memo? I thought it was a free country and being a Dog fan didn’t prohibit my right to go and …yes post a couple of positive comments on the Tech blog yesterday..I mean I’m from Atlanta and have enjoyed quite a few games on the Flats. Wait a min I do have that right and if some one is smart enough type they should be smart enough to figure that out . Now we have a tough game Monday and I hope we can beat MSU and carry some momentum into the new year..Go Dogs !

Bad Dawg

January 1st, 2012
3:51 pm

Garner, thanks for showing your true colors. I know the truth hurts but please refrain from using insults as a comeback. It shows that you have a little extra estrogen.

BG

January 1st, 2012
4:02 pm

B-truth)

January 1st, 2012
4:35 pm

fire paul johnson, lost to utah, are u serious

DawginTX

January 1st, 2012
5:22 pm

To Tech fans whining about Georgia fans talking smack after their loss, turnabout is fair play. A lot of posts on Georgia blogs are from Tech fans talking trash about our schedule, our coach, the academic quality of our recruits, etc. The only words of your fight song that everybody sings have to do with my university going to hell. In fact, it is such a common phrase that it has its own blogging initials. Other common phrases from Tech fans refer to my university as a cesspool. I am sorry, but when your fanbase spews such vitriol, you shouldn’t act indignant when some comes back at you. And this is from a guy whose dad went to Tech and used to pull for the Jackets every game except one.