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Getting to Know ... T.J. Anderson

T.J. Anderson, a South Gwinnett graduate, coaches wide receivers for Mountain View.

T.J. Anderson, a South Gwinnett graduate, coaches wide receivers for Mountain View.

T.J. Anderson, 28, is in his first year as a teacher and coach at Mountain View. The 2000 South Gwinnett grad coaches wide receivers and teaches special education.

Anderson graduated from Georgia Southern with a degree in sports management in 2005 and played under current Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. Anderson, the Daily Post's Offensive Player of the Year in 1999, won a Division I-AA national championship at GSU and played two years of arena football before going into real estate and ticket sales.

In this latest installment of "Getting to know ...," Anderson talks to staff writer Brandon Brigman about his first year coaching, sharing player of the year honors with his teammate and expectations for Mountain View.

BB: What made you want to get into coaching?

TA: I missed the game of football so much. I was down at Georgia Tech in their athletic department with The Aspire Group, handling season ticket sales.

It was mainly me wanting to reach back out to the kids, teach them a lot of responsibilities as far as transitioning and growing up.

Of course, being around the game of football. That's my passion, that's my heart.

BB: So you were doing ticket sales before?

TA: Yeah, I was with The Aspire Group. It's the team that came in and handled all of the Georgia Tech season ticket sales.

BB: Georgia Tech is not really known for selling out their football games, are they?

TA: (Laughs) No, they are not, but we had a tremendous turnaround. We had a tremendous response to Coach Johnson and the success he's had. It's not where they want it to be, but it will be soon.

BB: So when you were working there, how often would people ask you for free tickets?

TA: All the time. Friends, family, everybody. I always got phone calls. If I sold somebody on a group package, they still had my office number and would call me up for season tickets or extra tickets. Especially the Georgia game. Everybody was calling for that Georgia game.

BB: Have you been following Gwinnett County football since you graduated?

TA: Oh yeah, I know it's the best in the state. I've got some coaches that coached me in high school that are head coaches now. Mickey Conn over at Grayson, Shannon Jarvis up at Mill Creek. Of course, I played for T. McFerrin. I've always followed Gwinnett County.

BB: What have you noticed as the biggest change from when you played?

TA: Just the size, man. The size and the strength and conditioning has really taken leaps and bounds. These guys look like D-I college players some of them. The whole recruiting part has taken leaps and bounds, so that's different.

BB: You got any funny stories about (Mountain View) head coach Tim Hardy?

TA: He's a good guy. A great Christian man. I couldn't ask for a better place for a guy to give me my first coaching job. I really respect him as a great guy. He's strictly by the book and that's what I like about him.

BB: You have to kid him about his golf game at the Gwinnett County Touchdown Club golf tournament.

TA: I heard they all did terrible, but I've never seen him play golf.

BB: Do you play?

TA: No, I'm terrible. I can go out there and hack it around. As far as any kind of efficiency, no I can't.

BB: In high school, South was 0-10 your sophomore year and turned it around your junior year to make the playoffs. Is it sort of the same feeling here, building a program from scratch?

TA: It's very similar. Bringing in a whole new coaching staff from my sophomore year to junior year. Here we're just trying to build a culture. A lot of these kids are coming from backgrounds where they were never really taught how to work and some have never played football before. I think we're just trying to build them up the right way, get them to believe in what we do. It's very similar and there's a lot of struggles, but of course once we get to the top of the mountain it will be good.

BB: Your junior year at South Gwinnett, you lost at Valdosta in the quarterfinals. That's like the Mecca of Georgia high school football. What was it like playing there?

BB: It was so intimidating. Intimidating environment. The locker rooms there are right up underneath the stands. All the rich tradition of Valdosta history. We had confidence in ourselves that we were going to go down there and win, but those guys put it on us. It's a different breed of athletes down there, I'll say that.

BB: Who was the best player you played against in high school?

TA: (Parkview's Jeff) Francoeur and all those guys. Jeremy Muyres from Parkview. Even guys from Clarke Central like Dunta Robinson. Me and him were track rivals as well.

BB: Your senior year you shared Daily Post Offensive Player of Year with some guy. I can't remember his name right now.

TA: (Laughs) Yeah, who was that guy? Did he go to Georgia or something like that? David Greene. He's one of my good buddies. We still talk to this day. Yeah man, we made South Gwinnett and I guess put them on the map. We just really fed off each other and complimented each other well.

BB: Were you ever surprised he was able to go on to be the NCAA's winningest Division I quarterback?

TA: No, I've known David for awhile and he's always had that moxie to him, that charisma. He's a real good honest guy and doesn't let things get to him. He's a born leader. I always knew he would go to Georgia and do good things there.

BB: Were you able to do anything fun this summer besides high school football?

TA: That's pretty much all I've been doing. Getting into this coaching, you don't realize how much work you put into it. We went off to FCA camp down at West Georgia and that was fun. Me and my girlfriend took a trip down to Naples, Fla. Her dad opened up a restaurant down there, so it was kind of nice to go down there and get away. But that's about the only thing I've done.

BB: You look like you're still in pretty good shape. Do you think you could go out there and show your players a few moves?

TA: Oh yeah. I tease them. I get with my guys all the time, especially the receivers. I get into it, me teaching them route running, I'll show them how I want them to run the route.

A lot of guys ask me for my 40 time from back in the day. We ran 40 testing and I said guys 'You run a 4.5 or under, you get a chance to race me.' But we didn't have too many guys (laughs) get that. So they lost that bet. One day I'll give them a shot to race me.

BB: It's the second year for Mountain View. You guys are probably in one of the easiest regions. How many wins can I put you down for -- 7, 8, 9?

TA: (Laughs) I think we'll be OK. Of course us being a new school and being in the toughest region in the state we're going to go out there and compete. What we are doing and what we are instilling with the kids, just the response they've shown, I really think we can go out there and surprise some people. We're not looking to be the doormat, of course everyone thinks that of a new school.

BB: What was it like playing for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, who coached you at Georgia Southern?

TA: It was great. I truly believe in that offense and the triple option. We won the national championship my freshman year there. He left us for the Naval Academy, but Coach Johnson is a tremendous guy. He's a player coach, he definitely believes in his players and provides that confidence you need.

BB: You experienced a good amount of success in high school and in college. How do you feel like that will help you as a coach and translate into building a program here?

TA: Just knowing what it takes to get there. Know the hard work and preparation that you've got to put in during the off season, just format for success. I just have to instill what I know into the guys we have here now. Like I said, we're not looking to be the doormat of Gwinnett County and we're trying to get things done.

BB: I know it's your first year, but how long do you see yourself teaching and coaching?

TA: I'll be here for the long haul, man. This is my heart and passion. I knew right when I stepped on the practice field, this is right where I wanted to be with coaching. High school in Gwinnett County, it can't get any better than that, especially in the state of Georgia. I see myself here until I retire.