Hoosiers grab Ole Miss DE transfer Ryder Anderson

Ole Miss defensive end Ryder Anderson became acquainted with his next program in a unique way.

By beating them on the field.

Of course, the 6-foot-6, 265-pound senior from Katy, Texas, had no idea he might join the Hoosiers a week after their matchup in the Outback Bowl. Anderson was pretty sure he wanted to grad transfer once the season was over. But as he inflicted damage on Indiana’s offense, coming up with two tackles for loss in a 26-20 victory, he didn’t have a clue these were future teammates.

Even now, he isn’t quite prepared to compliment IU’s offensive tackles for their work in that game.

“I definitely wouldn’t say they kept me in check. They did the best they could,” Anderson said, kiddingly. “We will definitely have a little bit of friendly trash talk whenever I get to the locker room, probably.”

But while a loss to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl was a downer for IU, it wasn’t much of a stain on Anderson’s opinion of the Hoosiers. He knew they were a good team, just from watching film, and from playing them. He knew the Rebels, despite their 5-5 record, were pretty good, too. There’s a reason they were within a touchdown score of Alabama deep into a fourth quarter in October.

“I’d been hearing about this team all year and the success they’d been having. The Big Ten is a great conference. We weren’t taking the game lightly at all,” Anderson said. “It was a great game all the way down to the end. By the end of the game, I just had a lot of respect for IU and the players and how they came out and competed.”

IU will now take a pieces from of Ole Miss, a long, athletic edge-rusher who finished seventh on the Rebels in tackles (43), second in tackles for loss (seven), and first in quarterback hurries (six). He also had 2.5 sacks in 2020.

“It was definitely, I guess, a little shocking to everybody,” Anderson said of his commitment to IU. “But I saw Indiana. Just playing against them, they are a great team, and they have a lot of pieces returning. So I felt like we have a good chance of competing for a Big Ten championship and doing really well.”

Members of IU’s staff had familiarity with Anderson. Jason Jones, IU’s safeties coach, was an assistant at Ole Miss during Anderson’s freshman and sophomore campaigns. Grant Heard, the Hoosiers’ receivers coach, was one of the leads on Anderson’s recruitment out of high school, flying into Katy for one of his home visits.

Jones, along with IU defensive line coach Kevin Peoples, quickly got in touch with Anderson once he was in the transfer portal. For a Hoosier defense that’s been able to get pressure with the blitz but could do more with a four-man rush, Anderson fit a need.

IU also had a transfer out of its d-line room this offseason, redshirt junior Tramar Reece. So there was room.

“They believed in my ability as a pass-rusher,” Anderson said. “They are confident that I’m a three-down guy, a guy that plays the run well and then also gets after the quarterback.”

IU has been effective at plugging holes with transfers this offseason. D.J. Matthews, a senior receiver from Florida State, will help lessen the blow of losing Whop Philyor. Zach Carpenter, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman from Michigan, adds to IU’s interior rotation, which has returners in Dylan Powell and Mike Katic but may or may not have senior center Harry Crider.

When asked what it means that transfers from Ole Miss, Florida State, and Michigan — programs with better football traditions — chose to come to IU, Anderson said “it speaks volumes.”

“A grad transfer like me, I only have a season left. That’s a season you don’t want to go waste,” Anderson said. “The fact that me and a couple others are deciding to spend our last season of eligibility with IU just shows you the direction and, I guess, some of the potential of what this team could be next year.”

While Anderson became more familiar with the Hoosiers during bowl preparation, IU’s 2020 season caught his attention earlier than that. He remembers being in the Ole Miss training room, eyes on the television as Michael Penix Jr. dove for the pylon versus then-No. 8 Penn State.

“That went viral,” Anderson said.

And it may have been in a loss, but IU’s performance in the second half versus Ohio State also impressed.

“Even down in the South, they’ve been getting a lot of hype and stuff like that for their success this year,” Anderson said. “It was everywhere, Twitter, SportsCenter.”

So when the Hoosiers called, Anderson listened.

Of course, there were some jokes on social media about switching sides so quickly after the Outback Bowl, but it’s a good fit.

Peoples, previously at Tulane, actually met Anderson during the recruiting process, though they never developed much of a relationship. This time around, Peoples was able to make a connection, sharing that he’s a protégé of d-line guru Pete Jenkins, just like Anderson’s former d-line coach at Ole Miss, Freddie Roach.

Roach is now the defensive line coach at Alabama.

“That’s what Coach Peoples was telling me, you’re already familiar with a whole bunch of this stuff. It’s now about you getting here and us just running with it and continuing to help you grow,” Anderson said.

Anderson, along with his 6-6 frame, has an impressive athletic background. His brother is former Oklahoma and Cincinnati Bengals running back Rodney Anderson. His younger brother, Nicholas, is a three-star receiver back in Katy, Texas. His uncle is Mark Anderson, who starred at Alabama and recorded double-digit sack totals for the New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears in the NFL.

He talks to his uncle Mark multiple times per week, and Ryder trains with him during breaks from school.

The moves he executed for Ole Miss against IU, he will hopefully employ to the Hoosiers’ benefit for the rest of 2021. He intends to arrive in late January, enrolling midyear and available for spring practice. He joins with a defense that’s essentially returning all of its pieces.

“With a lot of guys coming back, that adds to that potential, just guys knowing their jobs and being able to play really fast,” Anderson said. “It’s exciting to be a part of a defense with experience that likes to attack.”

One comment

  1. IU is going after players to fill spots they need help to improve the team in 2021. I hope Anderson is the pass rusher IU needs in the defensive front four. He has the experience, size 6’6″ 265, and ability to be a real difference maker for a defense that did a great job creating take-aways. With the three transfers we are seeing some of the results from the past two seasons.

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