SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Before he became a viral sensation, Josh Anderson gave his parents an early-morning wakeup call.
Anderson had just been informed by Brian Kelly — in front of his teammates — that he was going to be put on scholarship for the 2015 season. The video of Notre Dame players celebrating the news was still a few hours from reaching every corner of the Internet, since Anderson was modeling the team’s Shamrock Series uniforms that were set to be unveiled to the public later that morning.
So Anderson called his parents in the Los Angeles area, where it was about 5:30 a.m. His dad groggily answered, and after hearing his son was going on scholarship, put the phone on speaker so Anderson could tell his mom.
“They both were kind of out of it,” Anderson said. “So I called them back a few hours later and they were like, I can’t believe it, this is amazing.”
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Added Anderson: “My parents are still kind of in shock. It’s like life hasn’t been real the past couple days. It’s just unbelievable.”
Anderson earned his scholarship for putting in three years of behind-the-scenes scout team grunt work, taking a beating in practice while doing his best to mimic guys like LSU’s Leonard Fournette. At 5-foot-9, 205 pounds, Anderson doesn’t have the bruising power or blazing speed of the guys he’s pretending to be in practice, but his work and dedication to the program and university stood out.
“He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met,” running back C.J. Prosise said. “He’s studying pre-med. He’ll be up all night studying and then he’ll come to practice the next day ready to go. When coach Kelly said he was getting a scholarship, I was so proud and happy for him. I know the work he put in here.”
Anderson earned admission to Notre Dame and was a preferred walk-on, and is working through his pre-med course load (he’s a science pre-professional major). He’s taking the MCAT later this school year and will start applying to medical schools, though he’s not sure what he’ll study — surgery and sports medicine were among the ideas he’s kicking around.
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Coming out of Notre Dame high school in the Los Angeles area, Anderson had a few offers to FCS, Division II and Division III schools, but once he got into Notre Dame on early admission he was set on heading to South Bend.
“My entire life, my dream was to go to Notre Dame and just get into the university,” Anderson said. “… I played football in high school, and another dream of mine was to possibly be on scholarship at Notre Dame. I’m so blessed. I’m so blessed to be able to say I received a scholarship from the University of Notre Dame.”
Graduate student linebacker Joe Schmidt knows what that feeling is like to call his parents and tell them he’s on scholarship. Notre Dame’s 2014 MVP went from preferred walk-on to scholarship player before the 2013 season and told his dad by asking him if he’d like to make $100,000 with these things called scholarships.
It’s no surprise that Schmidt was one of the first ones to bolt up and mob Anderson after Kelly made the announcement.
“It’s just so cool,” Schmidt said. “And you don’t know how much money that is until you’ve spent it. It’s really special for him and I couldn’t be happier for him. He couldn’t be more deserving. He comes to work every single day, tries so hard to help this football team and he’s the first guy in, last guy out, that’s how it always will be. It hasn’t changed since he got the scholarship and it won’t ever change. That’s what’s great about Josh.”
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Anderson may not see any playing time by the time his career ends at Notre Dame. The chances of him getting a carry seem low, with Prosise, Tarean Folston and a pair of talented freshmen comprising the Irish running back depth chart.
But Anderson relishes his scout team work and doing his part to get his teammates ready to play on Saturday, even if he admits it’s tough and a lot of work.
“The things I did on scout team kind of define me as a person,” Anderson said. “That’s who I am, that’s what I love to do. I love to challenge myself and I love to push myself to the limits, and I will continue to do that my entire life whether it be in the classroom, on the field, I love the challenge. I want people to tell me I can’t and I will do everything to show them that I can.”