Holy Spirit's T.J. Anderson hits St Joe QB Salaam Horne in the backfield. Anderson will play defense for Rhode Island, after giving a verbal committment.

Press photo by Ben Fogletto, Sept. 20

Holy Spirit High School senior football quarterback/linebacker T.J. Anderson says he likes defense better, and that's what he'll play at the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

Anderson has committed to the Kingston, R.I., school and will receive a full athletic scholarship to play football for the Rams. The Colonial Athletic Association program is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision.

"It felt great to finally get it," Anderson, an 18-year-old Absecon resident, said Monday. "I visited the schools of (the University of) Delaware and Villanova, but Rhode Island was my first official visit (this past weekend). I fell in love with the campus. The new coach (Jim Fleming) came from Central Florida, and I really liked him."

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Rhode Island was 3-9 (2-6) in 2013. Among its CAA opponents are Villanova, Maine, Delaware and New Hamphire.

Fleming, who was hired in December, was a defensive coordinator for two years at Central Florida.

"They like T.J. because he's going to be able to fit right into their scheme," Holy Spirit coach John Iannucci said. "I think it's a great fit for him. They were interested in him as soon as they saw the films of him."

Anderson is 6-foot and 225 pounds, and, according to Iannucci, runs a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash and bench presses 405 pounds.

As a senior, he was a first-team Press All-Star, chosen as an all-around player.

"He's a tremendous athlete," Iannucci said. "He has a sensational vertical (leap). He can play a lot of things. He played safety and defensive end, and he was a pretty good option quarterback. He could also be a running back or an H-back.

"He's a good kid and works exceptionally hard in the weight room."

Anderson helped the Spartans to three straight state titles from 2010-2012. He played some varsity on special teams as a freshman and saw some varsity time at safety as a sophomore. Holy Spirit needed him to play quarterback the past two years, and he also played linebacker.

Anderson missed three games due to an injury in mid-season as a senior but still helped lead Holy Spirit to an 11-1 record. The Spartans lost only to DePaul Catholic in the state Non-Public II final.

"I like defense better because of the hitting," Anderson said. "I felt confident at Rhode Island that I can do their blitzes and drop-back coverages. I'm faster than most of their linebackers. They recruited some pretty big offensive linemen, and I met some of them. They have some pretty good players coming in to turn the program around."

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