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Josh Anderson gets his moment on and off the field

| Thursday, November 12, 2015

Anderson 20150418, 2015 Blue Gold Game, 20150418, Anderson, josh anderson, LaBar Practice Fields, Mary McGrawMary McGraw | The Observer

For Josh Anderson, a 5-foot-9 running back from Chatsworth, California, just attending the University of Notre Dame was a lifelong goal.

“I’ve wanted to go to Notre Dame my entire life,” Anderson said. “My father went here, so I’ve always had that connection to Notre Dame.”

Add in the fact Anderson was able to walk onto the Notre Dame football team — and earn a scholarship before his senior year — his time here has been, in his words, “surreal.”

Anderson began his Notre Dame football journey in his senior year of high school.

“I was a preferred walk-on,” Anderson said. “I actually got invited to a spring visitation here, so I came and met with [receivers coach Mike] Coach Denbrock, and he said, ‘Yeah, we want you on the team,’ and that’s basically how it started.”

The next few years, were, according to Anderson, filled with “relentless effort, teamwork and determination,” as Anderson struggled to prove himself.

“Starting as a walk-on here at Notre Dame, you kind of start from the bottom, you gotta earn your reps, you gotta show people, show the coaches that you know how to play ball and that you can learn and that you can get better,” he said.

Anderson said the key to his success as a walk-on was taking advantage of chances.

“When you get an opportunity, you need to perform, and I’d say that I was able to do that at certain times, and that’s what helped me,” Anderson said.

Anderson also credits the support and inspiration he received from former walk-on running back Tyler Plantz and his father as being especially helpful during his time at Notre Dame.

“I just looked at the older walk-ons, and I saw how hard they worked,” Anderson said. “Tyler Plantz, he was a walk-on before me, running back, and I saw how hard he worked and what he did on a daily basis, and he kind of influenced me to work as hard or harder every single day. And then my father, he basically said, ‘Go out there and be you, do what you want to do, carve your own path.’”

By his senior year, Anderson’s hard work was rewarded when head coach Brian Kelly awarded him a scholarship.

“My dream came true,” Anderson said. “I’ve always wanted to be a scholarship athlete at the University of Notre Dame. I wanted to be known as an elite athlete, and I can’t even tell you, all my hard work paid off. It’s something that I can’t even believe I was able to accomplish.”

Anderson’s other cherished memories of his time on the Notre Dame football team include this year’s game against Texas, where he carried the ball twice.

“Getting called out in that first Texas game, getting to go out on the field and taking a few plays — it was just unbelievable,” Anderson said. “Looking at the lights, the 80-plus thousand people around. I’ve gotta say that was just spectacular.”

Although Anderson has achieved many goals already, he is still focused on his future and is currently studying to become a doctor.

“I plan on getting my masters degree in global health if I can, if I get into that program, and then after that I want to go to medical school, hopefully somewhere back on the West Coast,” Anderson said. “But who knows, you never know where I may end up. And then become a doctor, that’s my goal.”

When asked what he would like to do with his medical degree, Anderson noted a particular interest in sports medicine.

“Maybe being a team doctor somewhere,” he said. “That would be an ideal dream job for me.”

But even with the future in mind, with his senior season winding down, it is difficult for Anderson not to feel nostalgic.

“There’s nothing like playing football and going out there on the field every day with the teammates,” he said. “Even when it’s a grind, I’m gonna miss that.”

Anderson said he continues to make the most of every remaining moment, however.

“Just today at practice, I had a great time just because you can only put those pads on so many times, and football is an amazing sport, and yeah, I’m gonna miss putting those pads on and being out there with my brothers,” he said.

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