WSU receiver quits to focus on track career
PULLMAN – It was always in the back of Jeshua Anderson’s mind, gnawing at him.
Over the past couple of years, Anderson has pushed it back, keeping it buried, not letting the nagging thought surface for too long.
Finally, this week, the Washington State University wide receiver/400-meter hurdler couldn’t keep the decision submerged anymore. It was time.
So Tuesday night after practice the junior told coach Paul Wulff he was going to drop the slash. He had lost the desire to play football. It was time to just be a 400 hurdler.
“It wasn’t like me having the wear and tear on my body, it was more like … I wanted to have that fun factor, having the drive to do (both), keep pushing through the season,” Anderson said.
And it wasn’t there.
“You could say that,” he said. “There were some times out there, I don’t know, I’d have it on my mind through practice. I always got through and I always gave it my 100 percent, but it was on my mind.”
Anderson, who started both games this season, has given it his all as a receiver. In two years and two games, he’s caught 49 passes for 743 yards and four touchdowns. On the track he is a WSU record-holder and two-time NCAA 400 hurdles champion.
The decision wasn’t a quick one for the usually quick Anderson. And neither was it painless.
“It was during the summer,” said Anderson of when he really felt it was time to leave football behind, at least for a while. “I didn’t make (the U.S. world championships track) team and I had a few weeks off to rest a little bit and really think on my decision on coming back to school, coming back to play.
“It was pretty tough. My dad got into me a little bit.”
In the end, the pressure worked. He decided to return.
“I wanted to come back to do it for my teammates,” he said.
But it didn’t take those teammates long to realize his heart wasn’t into it.
“After my first year here I was having a little doubt about coming back and I told (roommate Daniel Blackledge), ‘Man, I ain’t going to come back, man,’ and he’s laughing,” Anderson said. “The next year (same thing).
“I guess it was a different feel this time. He felt I would make the decision this time around.”
When Anderson told his father, Timothy, and mother, Leslie, there were tough words and lots of emotion.
“He’s the one that got me through it last year,” he said of his dad. “He just loved seeing me out there on the field. To tell him I had resigned playing football, it was pretty tough on him.
“I was on the phone with my dad and we were crying. It was a tough decision. … But my parents are always behind me 100 percent.”
So is Wulff.
“I think it was time for him to take that next step and dedicate his future to that, to being a track star, and I completely respect it and support him in it, to be honest,” Wulff said.
“When you’re a world-class athlete and a chance to be an Olympian and one of the best in the world, it’s pretty tough to play two sports and get that accomplished.”
Anderson, who dealt with a sore hamstring throughout last track season, the summer and much of fall camp, will make sure it’s healed and stronger before getting ready for fall track training.
He’ll watch the football team.
“It was really something that was inside of me,” he said. “I kept it inside. I really didn’t talk to anybody but my parents about it.
“I think that was good, because my team is doing a lot better right now – we’re headed in the right direction. I’m going to be happy to see them progress and see them get even better.”
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