Nov. 21, 2011
By Brittany McCormick, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
The memory of scoring a touchdown is something football players remember with great detail.
As time was winding down in the second quarter of Michigan State's home game against Minnesota, a play was called that would set up senior fullback Todd Anderson for his first career touchdown and put the Spartans up heading into halftime. Anderson made the game-changing catch that gave the Spartans momentum and marked a historic first in his career - except he doesn't remember any of it.
"Nothing went through my mind after I scored," explained Anderson. "I just blacked out. But we were kind of in a hurry when the play was called so I didn't have time to get nervous or anything. I just thought `Don't drop the ball, don't screw it up.' Luckily everything went well and Kirk (Cousins) put it right on me."
Even though he won't quite remember all the details of scoring his first touchdown as a Spartan, the memory will forever be etched into Anderson's mind - and his skin.
"I had a bet with my mom and she said if I scored a touchdown, I would get a tattoo. She didn't really think I would score. So the first thing Brian (Linthicum) says to me after I scored was about the tattoo. I'm going to be working on that," said Anderson.
It's hard to believe that Anderson, the starting fullback for the Spartans this season, only began playing the position in the spring. The linebacker turned defensive end turned fullback made the switch in spring practice this year.
"During bowl prep for the game against Alabama, Coach Dantonio met with me and asked me how I felt about defensive end," Anderson said. "I thought I would be a good fit at fullback. I always thought that would be a good spot for me, so I tried it out before Alabama in practice. It went pretty well but they needed me at defensive end for the game. During spring ball they asked me if I wanted to make it permanent at fullback."
The Napoleon, Mich., native was able to transition into his new role flawlessly, but the road Anderson has taken to get where he is now hasn't been a smooth one. After joining the team in 2007 as a preferred walk-on, it would take three seasons for Anderson to see game action. One of the main reasons was that Anderson was sidelined his sophomore season due to a tough knee injury.
"During my sophomore year I got hit in a scrimmage and I tore some cartilage on my femur," recalled Anderson. "I had to have micro-fracture surgery. It took six months to heal. In practice one day it popped kind of and it felt 100 percent better. It was really weird. The trainer told me that if I was his son, he would tell me not to play anymore. I almost gave it up. I was real close."
It was a good thing Anderson found the motivation to keep playing because in the 2010 season, he played in eight games and recorded eight tackles, including three in his Spartan debut against Western Michigan. Not only did Anderson get to play in his first game in the Green and White as a junior, he was also awarded a scholarship prior to the season.
"It was almost like a relief, but at the same time, I felt some pressure because you're almost expected to do more for the team," he said. "I remember Coach D called me up to his office and I was shaking. I was extremely happy and so was my family after I found out I had gotten it."
Anderson has accomplished a lot these past five years through his position changes, knee injury and being awarded a scholarship. The funny thing is though, he almost didn't play football in college.
"Baseball was my number one sport in high school," commented Anderson. "I thought I was going to play that in college. I played it all four years. I was the catcher and I also played first base. I was all-state in baseball and wrestling, but not in football. I had even placed second in states in wrestling as a senior but after my senior season in football it just made me know I wanted to play football at the next level."
Anderson credits his father and mother as his inspirations as well as another family member who holds a special place in his life.
"I had a cousin that died from leukemia when he was 12," he said. "My dad always texts me a prayer every night with him in it. I always feel like he is watching over me. That's been a big part of having to get through everything and having him there. I feel like it has affected me."
Anderson, who is majoring in interdisciplinary studies in social science - health studies, will graduate in December and hopes to pursue a career that will combine his love for working out and nutrition.
"Working out - that's all I do all the time," he said. "I finally got my bench press to over 500 this year. That was my lifetime goal. I was really pumped about that. I would like to eventually work with a college as a strength coach."
Anderson's career in the Green and White will end following the completion of the 2011 season, but he will have some great memories to look back on, including being a part of the winningest senior class in MSU history and winning the 2010 Big Ten Championship.
"Michigan State football has really been my whole life so far," said Anderson. "There's been nothing else. My whole life I've wanted to play here and then I got to play here, so it's always been a big piece in my heart and it always will. There's nothing like this place with the stadium and the fans and everything. I wouldn't want to change anything."
GETTING TO KNOW Todd Anderson
Favorite home-cooked meal: "Golumpki - it's stuffed cabbage. My mom makes it, it's a family dish."
One thing Spartan fans don't know about you: "I can do the splits."
Favorite Movie: "Pumping Iron"
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Cake batter
Dream vacation spot: Bahamas
If you could trade places with someone for a day who would it be? "Bradley
Favorite game you have ever been a part of: "The win at home over Michigan this year."
This feature was originally published in the Nov. 19, 2011, edition of Michigan State Football Gameday Magazine.