December 19, 2011

Anderson helps sway teammate to Alabama

DAPHNE | It came as a surprise when Ryan Anderson and T.J. Yeldon, best friends and teammates at Daphne High School, chose to go their separate ways. Not only did they choose different schools, but they chose bitter rivals.

Anderson, a four-star linebacker, committed to the University of Alabama in April, and his teammate Yeldon picked Auburn, the Crimson Tide's biggest rival, in June.

Nobody saw Yeldon's decision coming, especially Anderson, but he worked and worked on the five-star running back, and his efforts paid off on Sunday.

"I was with him every day," Anderson said. "We were just talking about football, just chilling. We talk about football a lot and Alabama. I wouldn't let him talk about Auburn around me.

"We went to the Arkansas game together. He was at the LSU game, and then he got to see Alabama again when they played Auburn. He really got to see Alabama play more than he saw Auburn."

Anderson and a group of other UA commits, including Tyler Hayes and Reggie Ragland, spent the week with Yeldon and Florida State commitment Jameis Winston at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

It was clear the idea was to play together at the next level, and Alabama was the place to go. Winston remains solid on the Seminoles, but that hasn't stopped the Tide coaching staff or its 2012 class from recruiting the in-state quarterback.

"We're trying to get Jameis here," Anderson said. "We came close. At first, I didn't like him, playing 7-on-7 in Gulf Shores, but he's real cool. At the all-star game, most of us wanted to play together. We were always talking about playing together."

Anderson said Rivals100 cornerback and UA commit Geno Smith has also done his part to bring in players, including talking with Alabama's newest addition, Yeldon, on Twitter.

"We just talked about him making the right decision for himself and his family," Smith said. "He knew what he wanted to, so he let the coaches know, and I think he handled it in a good way.

"It didn't surprise me. I saw it coming for a while. I didn't have any information, but I just had a gut feeling."

The day after Yeldon switched his commitment from Auburn to Alabama, the five-star running back was already over at Anderson's house, and the two were planning to ride up to the high school together to work out.

It took nearly six months, but the Daphne duo is finally set to be teammates again at the next level, and neither could be happier about it.

"He's happy with his decision," Anderson said. "I'm excited. That's my best friend. I've known him for a long time. We're real close. We're usually together every day, so that's good."

Both players are scheduled to report to Tuscaloosa on Tuesday, Jan. 10, for orientation with classes at UA beginning the next day.

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