Linebacker Kevin Anderson steps up big in Rose Bowl

Palo Alto High School alumnus Kevin Anderson (‘11), who is studying civil engineering and plays outside linebacker on the Stanford University football team, played in the 100th Rose Bowl game on Jan. 1 and made two memorable plays, one that helped his opponent and one that helped his team. Anderson was recruited to Stanford after his four years of football at Paly.

Anderson was honored to have played in the Rose Bowl for Stanford, even with their 24-20 loss to Michigan State University (MSU). The Rose Bowl is one of the hardest football games to qualify for as a team, second only to the BCS National Championship Game. The Stanford Cardinal ended its season ranked eleventh in the AP Top 25 poll after peaking as high as fourth during the 2013 season.

“[The Rose Bowl] is a very special game to play in, only so many people have been able to play in it,” Anderson said. “It was pretty amazing and fun to do.”

In the game, Anderson played in all four quarters at linebacker. In a freak play, Anderson tipped the ball, which led to an MSU catch. Anderson used that play to allow him to improve for the rest of the game.

“[The tipped ball play] calmed me down, if anything,” Anderson said. “After that [play] I was able to play better, faster and smarter. It actually helped me to do well in the rest of the game.”

Later in the game, Anderson made up for his mistake by intercepting an MSU pass and running it back for a touchdown. This play, known as a “pick-six,” resulted in Stanford lengthening their lead against Michigan State to 17-7. Anderson was relieved from the play and felt that he helped out his team.

“I didn’t even really realize what happened until a little bit later,” Anderson said. “I was kind of shocked. I had never had an interception in a college game before. I felt somewhat redeemed after it. People were joking around with me and said that I had redeemed myself. I’m glad I helped the team out by putting points on the board.”

Even with the four-point loss, Anderson maintained everything in perspective by reminding himself that he gets to play on one of the best football teams in the nation.

“[Playing football at Stanford] is a lot of work, but you get a lot out of it,” Anderson said.  “You go to one of the best universities in the country, have some amazing professors, make great friends and the whole time playing on a great football team. It’s a lot of work, but you get what you put in and more.”

Anderson played defensive end  when he was at Paly before switching to linebacker at Stanford. For him, college football is very different from high school football mainly because of the schedule.

“When playing high school football you don’t realize that college football is year-round and you are working on training constantly,” Anderson said. “It’s a lot bigger of a commitment, but you also get to play in the Rose Bowl, [and] you get to play in front of 50,000 plus fans each week. It’s a big difference [from football at Paly].”

At Paly, Anderson’s team made it to the California State championship game in 2010. For Anderson, that moment was the most memorable of his four-year college career with the  Vikings.

“The culmination of my football career at Pay is when we won the state championship which is something I’ll never forget,” Anderson said. “It was pretty awesome to win with my best friends.”

Anderson feels lucky to have been able to play varsity football at two amazing schools.

“I’ve been lucky to go to a great high school and a great college,” Anderson said. “I really couldn’t have asked for anything else from either of them.”