The decision to commit to California was an easy one for Danville (Calif.) San Ramon Valley kicker Matt Anderson, the process that earned him a scholarship anything but.
Over the past week, Anderson had to best two of the nation’s top prospects – Daniel Carlson of Colorado Springs (Colo.) The Classical Academy and Michael Geiger of Toledo (Ohio) Ottawa Hills – to receive the nod from Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford and special teams coordinator Jeff Genyk.
“Last weekend I went to the Cal two-day kicking camp and I competed against Daniel and Coach Genyk told me that I performed very well at the camp, that I outperformed Daniel. So they invited me back yesterday to compete against Michael and they again said I outperformed him,” said Anderson, who converted two career-best 58-yard field goals during Sunday’s session.
“After we kicked, I met with Coach Genyk for a little while and toured the campus, then I met with Coach Tedford with my parents and they offered me a scholarship. I committed about an hour and a half later when I got home.”
Looking for excellence in both academics and athletics, Cal had long stood out for Anderson, who has a 4.3 GPA and scored a 33 on the ACT.
“Obviously Cal being the No. 1 public school in the nation and having any of their programs being in the top three in the nation, that’s something that I would love to be a part of,” he said. “Athletically, I love Coach Genyk and Coach Tedford as well, so I feel working with them would be a great experience. I know Coach Genyk is all about making his players better and better human beings, and that is something that really resonates with me.
“When it came down to it, Cal was on the top of my list.”
Anderson has only been kicking for the past two seasons, but his background gave him the natural skills to be a standout.
“I played soccer for a long time until about 7th grade, and kicking was something I was always interested in when I was whenever I watched football on TV. I would kick the ball during freshman P.E. I wasn’t on the team, but a bunch of the guys were telling me that I should go out for the team,” Anderson said.
It wasn’t until the following February that he started working with famed kicking guru Chris Sailer, a birthday present from Anderson’s mom, and refining his technique.
“That was my first exposure to an actual kicking coach, and I learned a lot at that camp. I’ve remained with Chris ever since and I have probably been to nine of his camps, including ones in Los Angeles and then the national events,” Anderson said. “A lot of the work is about doing the same thing the same way every time you do it and getting that recognition so every kick is the exact same kick so there is no change and you can make all of them.”
And while Anderson is thrilled to join his high school teammate, freshman quarterback Zach Kline, in Berkeley, he is even more excited to work with sophomore long snapper John Sheperdson again.
Said Anderson: “I think it will be great and help me ease the transition from high school to the college level because I’ll already have connections on the team, so it won’t be like starting completely new.”
Dan Greenspan is the publisher of Cal Sports Digest and covers the Pac-12 for Fox Sports/Scout.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanGreenspan.