Take it from someone who knows: “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
That someone was the late John Wooden, who led the UCLA men’s basketball program to 10 NCAA national championships from 1948-75.
Will Anderson is too young to remember the “Wizard of Westwood” establishing the Bruins as a powerhouse, but the Houston Texans’ 2023 third overall pick lives by the same standards as the phrase uttered by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame coach.
“I pride myself on my character,” said the former two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year from Alabama. “What’s on my back is my last name, and that’s the people I represent is my family. My mom and dad, six kids, not easy, you know what I’m saying? They sacrificed so much stuff for me and my family; people don’t even know.
“I think the biggest thing for me and my siblings when we’re in the real world, we’re going to represent the Anderson name the right way, and that’s what I always pride myself in is having high character.”
The Texans also sacrificed and mortgaged some of their future on Anderson when they traded with the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 3 overall pick for the No. 12, No. 33 first-and-third rounders in 2024, plus pick No. 105 in this year’s draft.
“I pride myself on my character,” said Houston Texans rookie Will Anderson Jr. when he was asked about his character. “What’s on my back is my last name, and that’s the people I represent is my family.” #WeAreTexans #Sarge @TheTexansWire pic.twitter.com/TMz8HUyXln
— #SARGE (@BigSargeSportz) May 3, 2023
Many felt that that was too much to give up for the former two-time first-team All-American selection, but Houston knows they are getting a guy who will give his all every time he touches the field.
“I would say energy and juice when he was here,” said Texans general manager Nick Caserio about Anderson’s initial Top 30 team visit. “He was the first visit that we had, and he was the only person that was in the building. Kind of the way we do our visits I think is a little bit different and unique, kind of how we set it up, it can be imposing depending who the player is.
“Again, you’re just trying to get a gauge of how different people handle different situations. Will was very consistent from the time that he was here in March to the time we talked to him over the course of the spring to the building here today.”
First-year coach DeMeco Ryans, who also played on the defensive side of the ball for the Crimson Tide, also sees a lot of himself in Anderson. He praised his work ethic, play-making abilities, leadership, and characteristic traits.
“With Will, I’ve watched him for a long time now, seen a few of his games, but just seeing again the fierce competitor he is,” said Ryans in the rookie’s introductory press conference at NRG Stadium. “Every time watching Alabama, when they needed a play on defense, it was 31. That was the guy stepping up and making a play. Everyone knows the leadership qualities that Will possesses.”