Indianapolis – For many of us, college was the greatest time of our lives, but running back Rodney Anderson went through an unusual amount of trial and tribulation during his time at Oklahoma.
First, there were the injuries. As a freshman in 2015, Anderson suffered a broken fibula in the second game of the season while attempting to make a tackle on a kickoff. He then missed the 2016 campaign after fracturing his C5 vertebrae in his neck during fall camp. He returned to have highly productive year as a junior, but the injury bug struck again last year when he tore his ACL early last season.
“It was tough,” Anderson said at the NFL’s scouting combine. “But at the end of the day, it’s a rough sport. Things happen. In my case, three completely unrelated injuries. Sounds like bad luck to me.”
Beyond his inability to stay on the field, Anderson faced serious allegations off the field when he was accused of sexual assault. But a police investigation that included a review of text messages as well as interviews with friends of the accuser led to no charges being filed.
Despite being cleared of wrongdoing, these types of serious accusations can linger. And given the headlines the NFL has made in recent years with its poor handling of cases involving physical and sexual violence against women, there’s an increased sensitivity to the topic.
Anderson, who is expected to be a mid-round pick in April’s draft, said he’s found the best way to deal with the situation is to take it head on during interviews with his potential future employers.
“It comes up and I’m honest and open with anybody who asks about it,” Anderson said. “It hasn’t been an issue because of my honesty and because of how it shook out.”
As Anderson moves forward, he’s still not fully recovered from the ACL injury. Physically, that’s preventing him from doing anything beyond the bench press at the combine. He’s hopeful he’ll be able to perform some on-field drills in April, prior to the draft, showing teams his rehab is on schedule. Above all, the goal is to be 100 percent for the start of his rookie season.
The 6-foot, 224-pound Anderson considers himself a versatile runner, a one-cut back who can outrun or run over a defender, depending on what the situation dictates. He’s also confident in his receiving ability, even through he had little chance to prove it while at Oklahoma due to the injuries.
With the Detroit Lions in the market for a backfield complement to Kerryon Johnson, Anderson was the first name mentioned by ESPN’s Mel Kiper as a mid-round option to fill the need.
"He would be a guy you roll the dice with, and if he can stay healthy, would be really a nice pick at some point in the middle of the draft," Kiper said during a conference call last month.
Anderson finished his college career having played in just 17 games. He carried the ball 200 times and averaged an impressive 6.4 yards per attempt, while scoring 16 times. He added 17 receptions for 285 yards and five scores.
Anderson completed a social sciences degree at Oklahoma and he is currently working his way through a master’s program in human relations.