Will Anderson is one of the toughest defensive players to ever suit up for Alabama. His secret? Growing up with five sisters.
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Will Anderson Jr. Got His Toughness from His Five Sisters

Just over a week away from the 2023 NFL Draft, one of the top defensive prospects is Alabama Crimson Tide edge rusher Will Anderson.

Anderson, who's rumored to be the potential No. 2 overall pick for the Houston Texans, is considered an elite, blue-chip, can't-miss, whatever-superlative-you-can-think-of type of player.

At 6-foot-4 and around 250 pounds, Anderson was immediately a star in college, generating 60 quarterback pressures as a freshman and nearly 30 sacks over the last two seasons. He's a player applauded for his burst, flexibility and ability to stay on the field.

Anderson is one of six children. They grew up having to split two bedrooms in a three-bedroom house in Hampton, Georgia. From oldest to youngest, the siblings are separated by 10 years.

Whenever a player of this stature comes along, especially along the defensive line, we hear the tales of what molded them to become the player they are today.

For Anderson, he cites his five sisters as the source of his strength and toughness.

Will Anderson's Sisters: "They Had Him Crying"

Will Anderson Jr. #31 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after sacking TJ Finley #1 of the Auburn Tigers during the Iron Bowl

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"Those girls used to have him crying. It was tough for him, I felt sorry for him at times," Anderson's father said in a feature posted by SEC on CBS in October 2022, before the Crimson Tide played Texas A&M. 

In the feature, Anderson talks about his sisters, providing superlatives for each:

  • Shawnta: "Nice nasty."
  • Shanice: "The mother."
  • Chyna: "Free-minded." 
  • Endia: "Like Shawnta. Nice nasty."
  • Teria: "Life of the party."

In the feature, Anderson mentioned that his sisters were "tough" and played sports. He said they were rough growing up, including participating in sports with the boys, such as basketball, and said they "wouldn't take no crap." 

Even though they were tough, his sisters said their family was chaotic but close. 

His father said he needed to get Anderson an outlet and "get him away from those girls."

That's where football came in. Anderson said he started when he was 5 years old. His mother said he started playing as an edge rusher in 10th grade. 

"The girls, you know, they're still on him. And that started when he was 5 years old," Anderson's dad told CBS. 

"We do cheer him on, but every game is an assessment," his mother said. 

His sisters made it quite clear in the feature that they were not afraid to deliver constructive criticism. 

His sisters said Anderson eventually saw through the constructive criticism and understood that his family just wanted him to be the best he could be. They also mentioned that, depending on the game, Anderson almost had a different source of sisterly motivation. 

"They told me things that other people were probably scared to tell me. The bad," Anderson said. "You know, people always want to tell you the good, but it's good when you got people in your corner that, you know, can help you realize, say, 'Get your stuff together,' and I think that's how my sisters pushed me a lot."

In a separate feature by Sports Illustrated, we learned more about the pranks Anderson's sisters would play on him — and it's OK to laugh, because these are hysterical. 

  • Shoved him into a dryer.
  • Had him parade about the backyard in a giraffe costume. 
  • Made him eat mayonnaise and jelly sandwiches. 
  • OK, this one's not so funny: One of the sisters dropped a dumbbell on his foot when he was 4, resulting in a fracture. Ouch!

With this type of sisterly hazing, it's understandable that Anderson would be frustrated and angry, as any kid would. But Anderson's father, as previously mentioned, allowed him to channel that into football. "No, you can't hit your sisters, but you can hit the boys on the football field," his dad told SI. 

"I used to make him really mad," his dad said to SI while laughing. "Next thing I know, he'd make some big play."

 Through it all, though, their bond is unbreakable. 

"I try not to get emotional, but he will put his life on the line for anybody," Shanice told SI, "He goes hard for his teammates and his family."

There are other examples of this bond dating back to when they were children, as SI points out. 

One year, Anderson was participating in a talent show for elementary school. However, when he got up on stage, he forgot his lines. While his sisters may have enjoyed picking on their brother, they came to the rescue, rushing onstage to help a young, weeping Anderson. He is the youngest of his siblings, and his sisters also helped raise him. 

What's Next For Anderson

Will Anderson Jr. #31 of the Alabama Crimson Tide takes the field before the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

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Anderson finished his college career with several accolades, including the following:

  • National championship
  • Lombardi Award
  • Bronko Nagurski Trophy (twice)
  • Chuck Bednarik Award
  • Lott Trophy 
  • SEC Defensive Player of the Year (twice)
  • Unanimous All-American (twice)
  • First-team All-SEC (twice)
  • Second-team All-SEC
  • Cotton Bowl MVP

In three years at Alabama, Anderson racked up 115 tackles, 34.5 sacks and one interception that he returned for a touchdown. With off-the-field and Pro Day concerns looming over Georgia's Jalen Carter, Anderson is easily considered the best and safest defensive player in the 2023 NFL Draft. 

The No. 1 overall pick belongs to the Carolina Panthers, who are expected to take a quarterback. After that, the Texans pick at No. 2, and there's a very real possibility that they could take Anderson. 

Either way, Anderson will be one of the first players selected in the draft. And he will be an impact player from Day 1, whether he lands with the Texans, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks or another team selecting toward the top of the draft.

Knowing what we know now, it seems we can thank his sisters for helping mold Anderson into the player he is today.

"Growing up in this family just taught me to show love, be happy, have fun, and don't take no moment for granted," Anderson told SI. "Make sure you cherish your times that you have with, you know, all the people that you love."

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