SALT LAKE CITY — Dres Anderson hopes to follow in his father's footsteps. However, the son of NFL record-holding wide receiver Willie "Flipper" Anderson knows it won't be easy.
The quest, though, isn't something the Utah redshirt freshman is shying away from. He's eager to start the process.
"It's fun shoes to fill. I like having something to look forward to," Anderson said. "I want to be just like him. I want to make sure I do great in college and hopefully one day get drafted into the NFL and make my mark there. But first I must make my mark here."
Anderson is off to a great start. The 19-year-old currently tops Utah's depth chart as both a receiver and as a punt returner.
"It makes me feel good. I always like to stay humble, though," Anderson said. "I've always got to prove myself. I'm a freshman. I haven't done anything on the field yet. I've still got to prove myself."
The former California prep star is receiving some good counsel along the way.
"I'm always talking to my father. He always tells me to give it your best every time. When you go out, don't take any plays off," Anderson said. "He told me it takes a lot to get to the NFL. You can't just be average. You've got to show out."
Anderson's dad was a second-round draft pick out of UCLA in 1988 and went on to play for the Rams, Colts, Redskins and Broncos over the next decade. He still holds NFL records for most receiving yards and yards from scrimmage in a game with 336 on 15 receptions in a 1989 contest against the Saints.
"He just shows me the ropes and I'm happy he does that. I'm happy that I have that in my life," said the younger Anderson. "I can go to someone who has been there and done it. So it just works out perfectly for me."
Anderson feels the same way about where he landed. Although he was a lifelong UCLA fan — the school where his father and uncle, Paco Craig, both played before going to the NFL — his allegiance has changed.
"Things happen for a reason," Anderson said. "It's all good. I'm happy here at Utah."
It's a perfect fit, he added, before noting he loves the fans and environment around the program in Salt Lake City. Red and white are his favorite colors and "everything worked out perfectly."
Worked out on a couple of different fronts — including offensive coordinator Norm Chow's move from UCLA to Utah.
"I came into my recruiting process knowing that I wanted to go to a Pac-10 school," Anderson said while noting that Utah was in the Mountain West Conference when he signed. "But it happened to work out perfectly when we got inducted into the Pac-12. The best of both worlds, I'm loving it."
So, too, are the Utes. The coaching staff loves his enthusiasm and passion for the game. Wide receivers coach Aaron Roderick said Anderson has a really bright personality and is a lot of fun to be around.
And then, there's his energy.
"He's a hard worker. Dres has a good motor at practice," Roderick said. "He's one of those guys that is always moving fast."
Anderson's pedal is to the metal at all times.
"He's explosive. He goes from zero to 60 in a big hurry," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who noted that Anderson is still a bit lean and needs to bulk up his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. "We think he's got a lot of upside. He's got the right mentality, and he's going to make some plays for us this year."
Anderson, though, isn't taking anything for granted.
"I love to be pushed," he said. "I love competition."
As such, he and teammate Reggie Dunn battle it out each day in practice. Although Roderick acknowledged that both speedy receivers will see a lot of action this season, there's no shortage of motivation — especially for Anderson, who has yet to play a single down of college football.
"He's capable of being a really good player. He's still young and hasn't proven anything yet. I remind him of that everyday to motivate him: 'You haven't done anything yet. Right now it's all just hype and expectations,' " Roderick said. "Nobody is going to put more pressure on him than himself. He expects himself to be a good player, as do we, and we're going to look for him to do good things for us."
Anderson is chomping at the bit to do so. He said last season's redshirt year was difficult. Besides having to watch games from the sidelines, Anderson found the workouts to be "crazy hard" when compared to high school.
"But I got through it. It made me stronger. I got bigger," said Anderson, who also got more familiar with Utah's playbook. "It worked out for the best for me."
Whittingham agrees.11 comments on this story
"It was hard, about midseason we thought, 'Are we doing the right thing because this kid is so talented,' " he said. "But we stayed the course, and we're glad we did. Because now he's just a freshman this year and he's ready to help us."
Utah camp report
DAY 9: The Utes had single session Saturday morning on the practice fields.
STANDOUTS: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said defensive lineman Dave Kruger, Star Lotulelei and Joe Kruger had good practices. Cornerback Mo Lee had a nice interception. On offense, Whittingham said quarterback Jon Hays did a nice job.
INJURIES: Nothing new. Running back Shawn Asiata returned to practice after being out with a concussion.
NEXT UP: Practice resumes Monday.