jsu media day

JSU player Darius Anderson during JSU's annual Media Day. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

JACKSONVILLE — If you called Darius Anderson by his given first name, he might wonder who you're talking to.

Some of his Jacksonville State football teammates almost certainly have no idea that's his real name.

To pretty much everyone inside and outside of football at JSU, Anderson is simply "Pancake," which is the nickname a high school coach gave him when he was in ninth grade. Anderson is an offensive lineman and a pretty good one, and whenever an offensive lineman drives a defender into the turf, it's called a "pancake" block.

Anderson has had his share of pancake blocks in his career.

"My ninth-grade coach, he saw me pancake his upperclassmen one day, so after practice, he called me, 'Pancake,' and that's something that's run through me ever since," said Anderson, a starting guard for the Gamecocks.

After a season spent at East Carolina, Anderson transferred to Jacksonville State in 2016. He's been a mainstay in the playing rotation ever since, and he said his teammates and coaches took to his nickname on the first day.

"As soon as I came down — 'Pancake, Pancake.' You know, it's hard to find someone who calls me Darius," Anderson said, adding that even some of his professors will call him "Pancake" on occasion.

The nickname fits what Anderson and his teammates on the offensive line have done this year. They've paved the way for a Jacksonville State attack that leads the Ohio Valley in total offense, scoring and rushing yards.

Eighth-ranked JSU (4-1, 3-0 OVC) averages 48 points a game and is preparing to host Eastern Illinois (1-5, 1-2), which is allowing 47.5 points each time out.

"We're doing the majority of everything well," Anderson said. "What we need to work on is completing a full game — just stay healthy and work hard to help our offense be the No. 1 offense in the nation."

Rolling up all those points is fun for Anderson, who jokes about how quickly he gets back to the sideline sometimes.

"When we have those one-play drives, it's a lot of fun," Anderson deadpanned, drawing a laugh from his audience.

"I like us being an explosive offense. We can score, and at the end of the day, we get that 'W.'"

Head coach John Grass said Anderson is doing his part in helping the Jacksonville State offense score all those points. Anderson missed the season opener because of a concussion, but returned for the next game.

"He probably had his best game this past Saturday," Grass said, referring to a 56-7 win at Eastern Kentucky. "He's working hard to get there. He's becoming a mainstay for us. I think No. 1 thing is the energy he brings. He brings good energy and good vibe all the time.

As for the concussion, Anderson said he's fine. He's accustomed to dealing with injuries, as he dealt with several nagging issues last season.

"I'm feeling great," he said. "I'm feeling better than I did last year."

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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