Alabama football's Anderson Jr. on 'Terminator' nickname and spring practice since COVID-19

Teddy Couch
The Tuscaloosa News

Will Anderson Jr. picked up the nickname "Terminator" last season and he had no idea if that was a good thing or not.

"I'm kind of ashamed because I never even watched the movie 'The Terminator,'" Anderson said, laughing. "I like the nickname. It's a good name. I guess once I looked it up and they told me the meaning of it, I said, 'OK. It can stay.'"

Anderson had no choice but to grow quick in 2020.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound linebacker from Hampton, Georgia, found himself standing on the field at the Jack linebacker position in the season opener against Missouri as a true freshman. 

By the eighth game against Auburn, Anderson made his way into the backfield for a sack – the first of his career. That started a four-game streak of getting to the quarterback through the SEC Championship Game against Florida. 

COACHING CONTRACTS:Alabama officially approves contracts for Bill O'Brien, other football assistants

EXPERIENCED SECONDARY:What is Alabama football secondary's biggest challenge in spring practice?

"My confidence clicked for me," Anderson said. "Me being confident in myself. I always did my job, but I was trying to play it safe a little bit. When I took the game for what it was and grew into myself, I said, 'OK, this is your job. Now let's play football and be Will Anderson.'"

He finished the season with 52 tackles, with 10 1/2 being for losses. He totaled seven sacks, hurried the quarterback eight times, forced one fumble and blocked a field goal against Notre Dame in the College Football Playoffs semifinal. 

Anderson is now going through his first spring practice as last year's was canceled because of COVID-19. He feels it's been beneficial.

"I'm getting to slow things down this year," he said. "Understand why I'm doing this and what is my job. Why certain things happen. And I'm actually learning the whole defense. Not just my job, but other people's job. Where people rolling down to. Where I have to fit."

Alabama holds its first scrimmage of the spring Friday. What does Anderson expect from it?

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) celebrates after making a play against Georgia on Oct. 17, 2020, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

'HE'S READY TO BALL':Jacksonville State DE on his brother, Alabama football's Trey Sanders

"Just going out there, getting better and competing," he said. "Having fun and playing with your brothers. That's the ultimate goal: having fun with your brothers. This scrimmage, we are just going to take it a play at a time, look at the little details so we can see the things we need to work on to get ready for the fall."

Who will have a better day in the scrimmage: offense or defense?

"We are just going to have to see," Anderson said, laughing.

Reach Gadsden Times reporter Teddy Couch at or via Twitter, @Teddy_Couch.