If Clarence Anderson could play quarterback, Force coach Paco Martinez would probably devise a play for Anderson to pass the ball to himself.
“I would be game for something like that,” Anderson said.
Instead, the Force is getting the ball to Anderson in every other possible way. The former Southeast High and record-breaking Ottawa University wide receiver leads Champions Indoor Football in all-purpose yards, more than 200 yards better than his closest competitor.
Anderson, a former two-time NAIA All-American who spent time in two NFL training camps, can affect the game as a receiver, a returner and – as it turns out – a running back. His nine touchdowns – two rushing, nine receiving – lead the Force (4-0), which hosts Texas on Saturday night at Intrust Bank Arena.
Anderson is third in the league in receptions, second in receiving touchdowns, second in missed field-goal return yards and fifth in kickoff return yards. He’s averaging better than six yards on 12 carries and was Wichita’s primary running back after Quentin Benning was injured in a game at Chicago last month.
“We look at different matchups and things that we can exploit throughout the game, just from film,” Anderson said. “Coach Martinez and our quarterback, Stephen (Panasuk), does a great job of finding things we can capitalize on.”
After missing an NFL opportunity, Anderson, 26, played his first two professional seasons in Poland. It’s not a football hotbed, but he said the Poles take the game seriously, noting that they take the field two hours before games just to play catch.
Even across the ocean, Anderson made headlines domestically. His 75-yard punt return for the Warsaw Eagles in 2013, which included several missed tackles and a lot of misdirection was a viral sensation, being picked up by the Deadspin website and analyzed on “SportsCenter.”
“I didn’t know I could be thousands of miles away and still make it on ESPN,” Anderson said. “It was crazy.”
Anderson returned to Wichita last season and was immediately established as a near-perfect fit for the indoor game, where all of his talents can be utilized. At 5-foot-9, he doesn’t have a the build typical of a receiver, but his speed makes him a difficult matchup.
As a returner, Anderson especially flourishes. It’s not always easy to create space within the indoor game’s compacted field, but Anderson has an immediate burst that allows him to pick up yardage even before he utilizes his shiftiness.
“It’s something that I’ve studied,” Anderson said. “It’s almost second nature. I tell people about it and they almost don’t believe me, but when I am returning it’s like everything slows down and I’m able to see things ahead of the play. It may seem like it’s going in fast motion, but it’s going a lot slower in my eyes.”
Texas at Force
- When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Intrust Bank Arena
- Records: Texas 3-1, Force 4-0
- Internet: wichitaforce.com