It is only a select few who get the chance to extend their football careers, and current junior at Sonora High School Chigi Anderson, 17, is trying to be in that select group of football players who get a chance to play at the collegiate level.
“Ever since I was a freshman I’ve always wanted to earn a scholarship to play college football, cause it just means that I’m another step closer to my dream of make it to the NFL,” said Anderson.
Anderson is 6’2 and weighs 185 pounds. He’s a junior with one more year of high school ball to play left and is very driven and focused. Earning All-League honors and currently being recruited by various universities, he is one of the most talented players in his conference. During another interview with Anderson’s football teammate, current junior also at Sonora High School, Robert Hernandez, 17, credited Anderson for his talent and value to the team.
“Honestly, he’s like our best player,” Hernandez said. “And sometimes it like we don’t know what we would do without him. I’m just happy he’s on our team because no one wants to have to play against him.”
Located in Orange County, Southern California, Sonora High is one of the smaller high schools in County. Anderson described the struggles of trying to gain recognition at a smaller known school compared to other power house programs around the area.
“I think it’s definitely harder to gain recognition when you play at smaller school, like those were some of the things I was worried about when I first came here,” he said. “But I just knew I had to pray and work hard.”
Anderson works out and practices five days a week, Monday through Friday, while also playing on an offseason travel team on weekends. The team plays against other skilled athletes and travel to different parts of California and even different states as it they get opportunities to meet college scouts and gain more recruiting interest.
With such a busy schedule at only 17 years old, what does he do in his free time?
“Homework and sleep,” Anderson said. “And if I’m lucky get chance to get some Madden or 2k(video games) in. It’s like a nonstop grind, it never ends. But honestly I like it this way because I’d rather be busy, plus I’m working toward something you know?”
Anderson’s older brother is a Cal State Fullerton science major, Andy Anderson, 23.
“He’s been playing football since he was a little boy, from like around 7 or 8 years old,” Andy Anderson said. “He’s always liked playing football, probably cause he’s real good at it too. And I salute cause I know Chigi works hard.”
Chigi Anderson had a good season last fall but his team did not. Does he think that team success affects an individual’s recruitment process?
“Honestly we had a bad year team-wise,” he said. “I think we only won 1 game this season. Yup we went 1-9 this season, it was all bad man.”
A winning team attracts scouts looking for talented players.
“I feel like team success does affect a player’s recruitment to an extent,” he said. “Because people don’t talk about teams that always lose. They talk about the winners, and obviously if a team is winning a lot of games there’s probably a high chance that they have more talented players, bringing more interest from scouts.”
One of Anderson’s football coaches Dustin Stafford, 26, is the current assistant coach for the Sonora Raiders. Stafford agreed that Anderson is a valuable player.
“He’s definitely one of the better players we have on the team, and he proves it every game,” Stafford said. “The kid is a special talent and he’s only getting better. Even though we had a poor season, He was still able to continuously make plays for the team when needed.”
Turns out that playing at one of the smaller high schools on a losing team has not stopped Anderson. He currently holds two football scholarship offers from University of Wyoming and University of Las Vegas Nevada. He is still being recruited by multiple schools and awaiting offers from schools, including UCLA, University of Washington and the University of Utah.
Being recognized and recruited by such prestigious schools feels good, Anderson said, and it is a step in the right direction.
“It feels good to get what you work so hard for,” Anderson said. “And what makes it better is it only makes me closer to my dreams of one day playing in the NFL. I just have to keep working.”