Darion Anderson knows what it’s like to deal with disappointment.
He dealt with it in high school and again last week when Georgia Southern lost at Troy after beating No. 20 Appalachian State.
Anderson doesn’t want to experience it again Saturday when the Eagles (5-4, 3-2 Sun Belt Conference) face Louisiana-Monroe (4-5, 3-2) at 3:30 p.m., at Paulson Stadium.
The Georgia Southern wide receiver was one of the hottest and most sought-after players in Georgia following his junior season at Houston County High School.
Anderson, the first four-star player to sign with the Eagles, was one of the beneficiaries of sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm’s breakout season.
The now Georgia quarterback threw for 3,629 yards and 31 touchdowns for the Bears that season. Anderson caught 55 passes for 1,262 yards and 16 touchdowns.
That put Fromm, of course, on everyone’s radar screen. It also did the same for Anderson. He committed to the Bulldogs.
Then the following spring he suffered a torn meniscus and schools, especially Georgia, started shying away. One school that didn’t was Georgia Southern.
On signing day Anderson spurned Cincinnati and Colorado State to sign with the Eagles and he’s never looked back although the GS offense of today is not what he signed up for.
“They play a nice up-tempo offense, and that’s what I love,” Anderson said at the time. “I really couldn’t be any happier because I am getting the opportunity to play D-1 football and be close to home.
“Georgia Southern was always there even when I was hurt and I was thankful for that.”
When Anderson signed Tyson Summers was the head coach and he was transitioning the Eagles offense out of its traditional triple option.
Things, obviously, didn’t work out for Summers and when Chad Lunsford was hired he wisely returned Georgia Southern to its roots.
The option offense does not call for much passing and Anderson’s statistics reflect that. In high school he had 87 catches for 1,881 yards and 28 touchdowns.
When Anderson lines up at wide receiver against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday his primary role is that of a blocker. At Georgia Southern wide receivers have been referred to as wide tackles.
This season the redshirt junior has caught two passes for 71 yards and one touchdown, a 26-yarder in last week’s loss at Troy. Last year he had four for 160 yards and three touchdowns and as a redshirt freshman he caught six passes for 106 yards.
“In this offense when your number is called you have to be ready,” Anderson said. “I just try to take advantage of my opportunities.”
Individual statistics, however, are not what’s on Anderson’s mind. His focus is on winning and he says that’s what the Eagles have to be concentrating on when they face the Warhawks.
“It was definitely disappointing to lose at Troy after we had such a good win at App State,” Anderson said. “It was embarrassing…we let it get away from us.
“This is a big game for us because it’s the next game,” Anderson said. “We need to win this one to get bowl eligible.
“We have to treat this game like App State. We have to play with a chip on our shoulder. If we don’t the same thing that happened last year will happen again.”
Last year, as they did this season, the Eagles beat a nationally ranked App team only to lose the next two games to ULM and Troy.
This year the two teams are reversed on the schedule but the scenario was the same: beat the Mountaineers and lose the following week.
Anderson wants to regain the feeling he had after last year’s season ended in a Camellia Bowl win over Eastern Michigan.
“That’s been the highlight of my career at Georgia Southern,” Anderson said. “I never won a championship in high school and winning the bowl game was great. I want to do that again this year.”