Markihe Anderson eyes a starting role


Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 12:57 a.m.

Markihe Anderson was in a rut.

Physically and mentally he just couldn't go.

Only a couple plays after recording his first career interception during last year's game against Tennessee, the junior cornerback went down with his second knee injury in four weeks.

Just days before Florida's opener, Anderson went down in practice with a sprained medial collateral ligament. Against the Vols, Anderson suffered a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in the same knee.

"I thought things were still looking up and I was still limping around, still in a brace and then being able to come out in that big game — my first game back — and get an interception I felt like, ‘Wow. I can really play this. I can really do this,'" Anderson said last week. "At the end of the day, to go down like that again is just so frustrating. Then trying to listen to the game in the hospital and it was just getting more frustrating. I was just going into a little mental slump. I just had to climb back out."

A projected starter before the 2007 season, Anderson now finds himself at the nickel corner position and lower on the depth chart than he expected. He's gunning for one of the top two spots at corner and while he loves his teammates, being behind everyone is starting to get to him.

"He's feeling very confident right now," said cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford. "He wants to play. All he says is, ‘Coach, I want to be the starter. I don't want to be the nickel back. Put me in that starting lineup and I'll show you what I can do.' So far he's done an outstanding job. He's pressing Joe (Haden) and Wondy (Pierre-Louis) for a starting position."

Anderson knows his time at UF is starting to dwindle and he doesn't want to see his career at UF end playing the backup role. He might have been in Gainesville for nearly three years now, but because of his limited playing time, it seems like his football career has gone by too fast.

"It hit me during the summer when the coaches were talking (to the team)," Anderson said of being an upperclassman. "I was like, ‘I really am one of the old guys.' I feel like I just got here and it goes by just like this and when you come in they tell you that.

"Being a junior already, I was just like limping around and gimping around out there last year, I forgot (what it was like) going through my plays as a true freshman. Last year I got hurt and here I am as a junior already and it's time to step it up and get back on the field and get my spot back. I'm healthy and I'm trying to do it all."

Anderson may have been trying too hard.

He has yet another obstacle in his way as he was seen leaving Monday's practice with a cast on his right wrist. However, the damage doesn't seem severe. UF coach Urban Meyer said the injury is only a sprain and he expects Anderson back this week.

Still, it's just another injury keeping him away from his goal of starting. But this new injury only puts Anderson in a position to work even harder when he comes back and his competition knows it.

"It drives us because he's been hurt," Haden said. "If he wasn't hurt he would have started when I was a freshman. It drives everybody to just do as good as you can."

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