Anderson tries to fulfill NFL dreams after ‘humbling’ experience

Robby Anderson missed the 2014 season for academic reasons before rejoining the team last summer. He worked out at both receiver and defensive back in front of NFL scouts at his Pro Day at the Student Pavilion on Wednesday.

Robby Anderson catches a touchdown in Temple's 49-10 win over Tulane on Saturday. | Geneva Heffernan TTN
Robby Anderson catches a touchdown in Temple's 49-10 win over Tulane in Oct. 2015 | Geneva Heffernan TTN

When the names of the wide receivers selected during the 2015 NFL Draft class were announced in Chicago last April, most were familiar to Robby Anderson.

The Owls’ former wide receiver, who played high school football in Florida, knew the talent of the players who heard their names called like the University of Alabama’s Amari Cooper, a Miami native drafted No. 4 overall by the Oakland Raiders.

Anderson, who totaled 791 yards receiving and nine touchdown catches for Temple in 2013, thought his ability equaled that of his peers fulfilling NFL dreams.

But instead of expecting a phone call from an agent or an NFL team on draft day, he watched the event from his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where he had spent the last year trying to work his way back to Temple after being dismissed from the university for academic reasons following the 2013 season.

“It wasn’t frustrating because it was a situation I put myself into,” Anderson said. “It was humbling to see guys that I’ve played little league with, guys that I’ve played against getting drafted. I believed that I was better than them. … It really opened my eyes and let me know that I can be there, I can be the same things as those guys.”

Anderson rejoined the Owls this summer and caught 70 passes for 930 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015, helping Temple to a 10-4 record last year during his first season on a football field since 2013.

On Wednesday, he worked out in front of NFL scouts representing 26 teams at Temple’s Pro Day, held at the Student Pavilion.

“This time last year, I was at home kicked out of school and going to community college, but in my mind I believed I would be here at this time next year,” Anderson said. “I just held onto it. One thing I learned growing up is never give up on your dreams, never give up on yourself .”

At his Pro Day, Anderson demonstrated his on-the-field abilities and athletic ability. He ran an unofficial 4.34-second 40-yard dash, did eight reps on the bench press and weighed in at 187 pounds. He also caught every pass during his wide receiver drills.

In an attempt to give himself an even better chance to here his name called at the NFL Draft in late April or latch on with an NFL team this upcoming summer, Anderson also performed drills at defensive back for the scouts in attendance. He hadn’t played the position since spring practices in 2013.

“You gotta do whatever you can to play in this league,” former linebacker Tyler Matakevich said. “Whether it’s playing defense, playing offense, special teams, whatever your role is you gotta do it to the max, and I think that’s an area they see Robby playing, at like a corner.”

“I know at cornerback when I played here in the spring, I had a lot of interceptions,” Anderson said. “I don’t think I gave up any touchdowns and my presence was felt on the field.”

After receiving an associate’s degree at Valencia Community College in Orlando, Florida while away from Temple Anderson earned three A’s and a 3.0 GPA during the summer of 2015 to regain academic eligibility and work his way back onto the football team.

The former Temple wideout also said he maintained a 2.75 GPA during the fall semester, never missing a class.

“We all hit adversity in our lives,” coach Matt Rhule said. “The key is how we overcome it, and he’s overcome it.”

Anderson was invited to compete at the Jan. 23 East-West Shrine game, an annual college football all-star game that gives players a chance to practice and play in front of NFL scouts.

Throughout the pre-draft process, Anderson has been asked about his past academic troubles, but he hasn’t run from the question.

“Every team asks me about it, and I just answer the question truthfully,” Anderson said. “I just take accountability for my actions.”

Owen McCue can be reached at owen.mccue or on Twitter @Owen_McCue

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