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Deon Anderson: Beware of the Cricket in 2008!

There are cultures across the world that consider crickets a delicacy. They are rich in protein and most consider them extremely tasty with a very particular consistency not found in other popular foods. In Vietnam there are restaurants devoted to the delicious insect, offering up dishes such as "young crickets deep fried", "cricket salad", "breaded cricket", "cricket noodle" and "peppered cricket". A very common snack in Asia however (crickets are known as finger food for beer drinkers), is thought of a disgusting insect here in America. Crickets are everywhere and during Dallas Cowboys training camp in San Antonio last year, the insects invaded the town. So what does a rookie football player do when one comes hopping into the locker room? Well, eat it of course.

Deon Anderson had made a name for himself already in training camp as a hard-hitting work-horse who was not afraid of taking on any challenge. In the locker room after a practice RB Alonzo Coleman had won a few harmless bets and called for Anderson to eat a nearby live cricket to even up the score. Without batting an eye he picked it up, plopped it into his mouth, chewed and swallowed with a big grin on his face. He said the toughest part of the feat was catching the squirming thing, in fact stating that it really didn't taste that bad. The tale of this feat quickly spread through the team, confirming what many of them had already believed: this dude was crazy. And he liked it that way.

Deon was born in rough and tumble South Providence, Rhode Island. Raised by his single father and grandmother, he did his best to distance himself from the trouble that surrounded him growing up.

"Every season I was doing something," said Anderson. "Between going to school and playing sports I didn't have time to hang out and get in trouble like kids in the neighborhood. I always was into sports." (nflhs.com)

Participating and excelling in baseball, basketball, track and field and wrestling, it was his skills on the youth league football field that garnered the most attention. Anderson was invited to attend a distinguished private school, an opportunity he did not hesitate to take advantage of. After transferring to high school he became a standout football and track star and was once again invited to a private school. At the prep school Avon Old Farms he started to get offers from local Ivy League schools, along with Syracuse and Notre Dame. While tempting, Deon opted to stay close to his family and attend UConn.

At UConn, Deon became a standout special teams player along with being a top fullback prospect, showing the ability to make plays out of the backfield along with being a lead blocker. Unfortunately, he ran into academic trouble and was forced to withdraw from school after his junior year. Going back to his old neighborhood and seeing the struggles people were going through there gave Deon the incentive he needed to put himself back on the right path. Re-applying to UConn after a year off he made the football team again, this time as a walk-on. While he practiced and worked to fix his grades, he lived in an abandoned locker room until he had his scholarship renewed. That year, Deon was voted UConn’s most valuable player by his teammates.

Coming out of college there was a question as to whether Deon was a good choice for a team to draft. He was a relatively speedy fullback who also had the ability to pound opponents in the running game and as a member of the special teams. It was unclear at the time on exactly why he had missed out on a year of college and the prevailing theory was that is was because of disciplinary issues. During his senior year, neither he nor his coaches spoke on the matter and that might have driven some teams away, but not the Cowboys. On the second day of the draft, Deon got a call from Jerry Jones informing him he was about to become a Dallas Cowboy.

Deon showed the Cowboys during training they had made the right choice. He was a quick learner and constantly worked to fix any mistakes he made. He learned the playbook and after having trouble early on with his specific assignments, he proved to the Cowboys he could adjust to the pro game. He became a force on special teams and earned himself a spot on the starting roster. When Oliver Hoyte went down with a neck injury a few games into the season, he seamlessly took Hoyte’s place. With Anderson in at fullback, it seemed that the Cowboys might be able to fully realize their plans for the fullback position. He showed the potential to be a weapon out of the backfield in week 5 against Buffalo as Tony Romo struggled to find rhythm on a bad night. In three games as a starter, Deon had impressive numbers for a rookie fullback (6 rec, 55 yards, 9.2 avg.) and continued to improve on special teams, fearlessly throwing his body into blockers on kickoffs and punts. Unfortunately, his season was cut short against the Philadelphia Eagles when he tore his rotator cuff. Placed on injured reserve he had to watch the Cowboys finish the season from the sidelines.

This season Deon heads into off-season workouts as the Cowboys’ lone fullback after Hoyte departed in free agency. With the team’s sights set on the Super Bowl, having a top-notch blocker in the backfield will be a vital part of the offense’s success. His rookie year he flashed the ability to explode into the line of scrimmage and make a hole out of nothing, as well as being able to make plays in the passing game out of the backfield. The Cowboys will also be looking for young players to to step up their game and make an inconsistent 2007 special teams better. Deon’s popularity with his teammates and his abilities on kickoffs makes him a prime candidate to assume that role. He has worked hard to get to where he is now and will no doubt cherish any opportunity he has to stand out and succeed.

Sources used for this story:
Scout.com
NFLHS.com
NFL.com
USAToday.com
UConnHuskies.com
DMN Cowboys Blog

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