Alabama Football: Will Anderson and ‘Magic Number’

Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr/The Tuscaloosa News via USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football has some impressive statistical records, but there’s one that every fan remembers more than the rest.

The NCAA didn’t begin recording this particular statistic until 2000, but any diehard college football fan (and certainly the Alabama football ones) know it by heart: 27.

In 1988 the late Derrick Thomas recorded 27 sacks in a single season on his way to a Butkus Award and forever glory in the annals of Crimson Tide lore. Unfortunately, the above toothless organization in their infinite decrepitude didn’t start charting sacks as a stat until twelve years later.

Terrell Suggs in 2002 garnered 24 sacks for the Arizona State Sun Devils and that’s the record that the NCAA recognizes. We all know the truth, though.

27 is the number and, for the purposes of this post, it’s the one we’re going with.

Which brings us to William Anderson Jr.

(Remember: it’s in his name)

Alabama Football ‘Terminator’ is very good at football

Last season, Anderson merely waved his arms at what appears to be an incredibly high ceiling. In 2020, he sacked a quarterback seven times. And that was in the span of four games.

There were simple-minded yayhoos out there who felt Anderson wasn’t living up to his potential from the outset of the season. While he was just a true freshman, he won the “Jack” spot at OLB (a linebacker/defensive end hybrid) during fall camp. To some, this meant he should’ve recorded his first five sacks during his first game.

This, of course, did not happen and gave the message board trolls plenty of fodder to say that Anderson was underperforming.

Underperforming to what standard, pray tell? The imaginary one thrust upon an 18-year-old kid who didn’t ask for the five-star designation given to him coming out of high school?


In the first game last season, you could tell what kind of player Anderson was when he disrupted the mesh point (where the QB and running back meet with the ball in the backfield) multiple times. The speed with which he got in the backfield was stunning.

Come to find out his offensive teammates (and the former OC) already knew what the rest of us were about to discover. They famously gave Anderson a nickname for it: The Terminator. aptly chosen for his penchant of getting to the quarterback on a near-constant basis.

A 27-sack record or even 24 sacks is a record that hasn’t been broken in almost two decades. So why would a schmuck like me (someone who despises lofty expectations put upon a player) suggest that Will Anderson can be the guy to do it?

Because Will Anderson is that talented. Because Will Anderson won a job and never lost it at a position that no one before him had won as a true freshman in the Nick Saban era. Because Will Anderson is only going to get bigger, faster and stronger.

All of these things are, of course, predicated upon having a relatively injury-free season, but barring that, tell yourself that a guy with Anderson’s motor and technique in an age where getting to the quarterback is paramount can’t do it.

Beyond the wake of destruction wrought by The Terminator in films, it was its single-minded focus that made it so terrifying. It just kept coming. And this is what gets to the heart of Will Anderson: his focus.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban doesn’t like the discussion of records. Records are clutter. Rat poison, if you will. And you can almost bet that Anderson doesn’t care or possibly even know about the 27 sacks. That’s what actually puts the current record in jeopardy.

If you task a Terminator (Anderson) to disrupt anything its target (the quarterback) does, then it’s going to take a plutonic effort to stop it. This makes me believe Anderson can be the guy to do it.

It’s all of the above: his focus, intelligence, speed, strength and want-to. The guy just seems like he wants to be great.

Plus, he has anywhere from 12-15 games to do it. Derrick Thomas did it in 12.

Anderson and his fellow OLB Chris Allen are already the top returning edge-rushing tandem in the country. And with an insanely deep collection of one-and-three-gap fiends on the defensive line, Anderson is more than capable of strongly building upon a really good freshman season.

Next. Let's have a QB controversy. dark

Can or will Will Anderson break the FBS single-season sack record?

Remember: it’s in his name.