In the Laney athletics field house, nobody knows where he is right now, but everybody knows who he is and where he’ll be next month.
The assignment: find Je’Vari Anderson, Laney College’s standout defensive back. He’s heading to UCLA to play for the Bruins in the 2018 season.
In his career as an Eagles safety he played in 21 games with 32 solo tackles, 10 assisted tackles, and three interceptions. Last season, Anderson was named a Region I All-Conference and All-National Valley Conference player.
He signed on to UCLA Feb. 6 with a scholarship to play as a linebacker. This is the first time a Laney student has gone on to play football for UCLA, Anderson said.
“He’s violent,” head coach John Beam said. “He understands the game. He’s explosive when he comes to make a play. People like that.”
Anderson is “football smart,” as Beam puts it, and he’s capable of much more than an impressive approach to playing the sport.
“They see this football player but he’s actually much deeper than that off the field. He’s introspective, he thinks things through and he’s a good human being,” Beam said.
Strength and conditioning coach Antuan Webb broke down what he saw as the story of Anderson’s success. “He came into the Laney program and has been a great citizen,” Webb said.
“Hard work in the classroom, hard work in the weight room, and on Friday and Saturday nights, he received an ‘A’ on the football field.”
After a false start out of football powerhouse De la Salle High School, Anderson now feels as though he knows how to stay focused. “I took school really seriously this time,” he said. “Laney’s been a great experience. The teachers and staff are great, and the coaches here are very organized.”
The shift from linebacker at Laney to safety at UCLA should be an easy one for Anderson. “He’s a bigger, thicker guy than he was,” Beam said, “so he’s changing into more of what we call a ‘down-the-box player’. He’s moving to the front end, and he’ll start five yards closer to the ball.”
Anderson’s versatility on the field is an advantage, and one that is still relatively new to football.
“Right now it’s not as common as it should be, but it’s definitely moving that way. Kids are built differently, and they can compete in multiple positions,” Anderson said.
He is aiming to get his graduate degree in neuropsychology, but he isn’t looking too far ahead. “I’m concentrating on my undergrad and excelling in my football season,” he said.
Anderson feels as though he learned the skills at Laney that he needed to make the grade at UCLA. “[Coach] Beam took academics really seriously here,” he said. “He makes time for it cause that’s what we’re here for anyway, right? A second chance.”
Anderson will be leaving behind many friends and admirers at Laney College. “The other day I programmed him in my phone as Mr. Anderson, because when I think of ‘mister’, I think of someone I really respect,” Webb said.
Goodbye, Mr. Anderson, you’ll be missed.
Eva Hannan is sports editor for the Laney Tower.