Ben Anderson didn’t get to hear the announcement that the Preseason All-SWAC voters elected him Offensive Player of the Year a second straight season. But right now, the honor doesn’t mean anything to the Arkansas-Pine Bluff senior quarterback.
“The preseason award doesn’t mean anything if you can’t get the wins,” Anderson said after Monday’s opening preseason camp practice. “I actually want to earn it. If at the end of the season we get the (SWAC championship) trophy, that’s all that matters.”
Anderson has won an Eddie G. Robinson Trophy already for UAPB, but never has he earned the postseason honor of Offensive Player of the Year. He posted good-enough numbers last season, but the Golden Lions’ 2-9 record apparently kept him off the All-SWAC list in December.
Which may have made it surprising to him that he would get the top preseason honor again. Prairie View A&M’s Jerry Lovelocke was named the first-team quarterback.
Now in his fifth season on campus — the Parkview graduate redshirted in 2010 — Anderson is not taking anything about this season for granted. Monday marked the start of his last opening camp.
“It’s the last one,” Anderson said. “Every day is precious. It’s not, ‘Let’s get through the day.’ I’m taking it all in.”
First-year offensive coordinator Anthony Jones, who coaches the quarterbacks, didn’t see anything different about Anderson on Monday, which for him is a good sign of things to come.
“Ben has been Ben the last three years,” Jones said. “Me coming in here one day won’t change that.”
Jones actually has been at UAPB since January, and Anderson is acclimated to the changes Jones installed in the offense during spring drills.
A look at the QBs
Anderson has new company this season in the form of true freshman LaEarl Patterson. The Memphis Melrose product will push sophomores Brandon Duncan and Marcus Terrell for the No. 2 job during camp.
“Patterson did some good things,” Jones said Monday. “He picked up some things right away. But he’s still a freshman.”
Duncan and Terrell did not take a single snap in a game last year, and both are continuing to battle after neither gained ground over the other on the depth chart during the spring.
“Just trying to get them up to par,” Anderson said. “They never know if they have to come in for me and take a snap.”
A fifth quarterback, California junior-college transfer Collin Willis, is not expected to report to camp until later this week. Two other true freshman QBs from last year, SanAntonio Cole and Joey Louis, have left the team.
New coach on the block
Tony Turner’s coaching career has taken him from Division II to the Ohio Valley Conference to high school and now the SWAC.
The Conway native got to work his first preseason camp practice with UAPB on Monday. He was hired earlier this summer to mentor the linebackers.
“I had an opportunity,” said Turner, who spent last season as defensive coordinator at Lafayette High School in Georgia. “My wife is a certified teacher. Now she’s got her master’s degree, and we’ve got an opportunity to come back to Arkansas and do what we love.”
Turner spent a few years in the insurance business before returning to the sideline at Lafayette. Before that, he spent nine years in the college ranks, starting at Fayetteville (North Carolina) State, then moving into the OVC, where he worked at alma mater Murray State, Eastern Illinois and Tennessee State and won a combined five conference championships.
Turner sees plenty of talent in a young but talented group of linebackers at UAPB.
“One of our goals is to be more aggressive and paying more attention to detail,” he said. “We’re very talented, but it’s coaching.”
Coleman’s first-day report
Head coach Monte Coleman was happy with the first day of practice, noting that the Lions “moved around” the field and came back in good shape.
“We’re very optimistic,” Coleman said. “Any time your guys go through a morning run like we did today and then go through a full practice, they’re in great shape. Everyone passed the running test.”
About 90 players reported to practice, and Coleman said he got to use Monday as “more of a teaching period” rather than conditioning time.
Coleman’s son Kyle, who has to sit out this season after transferring from Arkansas State, is not reporting to camp until classes begin, helping UAPB stay within the NCAA limit of 95 players before school.
The Lions will work out in helmets and shorts again today and put on shoulder pads starting Wednesday.