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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 14 2012

Will Anderson become next great Bison running back?

FARGO – The kid literally showed up at the North Dakota State football office one day and asked if he could try out. Darius Anderson is from Hawaii, so head coach Craig Bohl asked him how he got to North Dakota.

Well, by airplane of course.

There’s a lot more to it, of course. Anderson transferred to NDSU after his freshman year just down Interstate 94 at Valley City State because he wanted to chase his Division I dream. He’s redshirting this season because of NCAA transfer rules, but that doesn’t mean he’s not contributing.

He’s 5-foot-7, 182 pounds and could be the next big thing in Bison football.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and he’s the best scout team running back I’ve ever seen,” said NDSU defensive coordinator Chris Klieman. “And I’ve seen a lot of good ones.”

As a scout team player, he mimics the plays of opposing NDSU running backs, like Indiana State’s Shakir Bell or South Dakota State’s Zach Zenner. He’s played those roles well.

“He’s going to open a lot of people’s eyes,” said Bison noseguard Leevon Perry. “He’s a little dude that really built himself up and has a low center of gravity.”

Perry compares him to former Bison running back/return specialist Mike Sigers, who had some vibrant plays in the 2010 season. Bohl compared him to Bell in front of a roomful of boosters a couple of weeks ago, although the head coach backed off on that statement last week.

“I’m going to be a little guarded on that. That’s a pretty lofty accolade” Bohl said. “Of course practice is different than a game, but as far as a scout team running back, he’s one of the most dynamic that we’ve ever had.”

Bell had the most success of any running back against the Bison defense this year by consistently breaking tackles, especially in the second half in the 17-14 Bison loss, their only defeat to date in the season. In response, Klieman said the tackling intensity in practice was increased and the scout running backs were asked to pack more punch.

That’s about when the players and coaches really took notice of Anderson.

“The kid has a combination of speed, power, the ability to change direction and great vision,” Klieman said. “Now, he has to do it when the lights come on, but the things that you see on a daily basis have the staff extremely excited about his future.”

Anderson is from Island Pacific Academy in Kapolei, Hawaii, but the school does not have football so he played for Pac-Five High School in Honolulu. He was lightly recruited, with his best financial package coming at Valley City State. The Vikings also recruited a couple of his teammates, he said.

“After living in Hawaii for so long, I wanted to experience a different scenario, and my parents wanted me to get out of the house so to speak and feel like what it’s like to be on my own,” Anderson said.

He had 47 carries for 218 yards for the Vikings last year, but played just six games after questions surfaced on his ACT scores, said Valley City State head coach Dennis McCulloch. Those are hardly statistics that make him a Division I transfer candidate.

He was back with the Vikings in spring football, but decided on NDSU in part because the Bison won a Football Championship Subdivision national title.

“He did a lot of good things, when he left in May he was planning on coming back,” McCulloch said. “He was a good player. He had an impact for us.”

Now that impact has moved east, at least in practice anyway.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to play on the ‘screen’ and play for a big crowd,” Anderson said, “and now I’m living that dream.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia