Instead of taking classes as a senior at Arkansas, Anderson is a 21-year-old millionaire starting at defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons.
There's one thing he doesn't have. The No. 8 overall draft pick has yet to record his first NFL sack.
"It's been real frustrating not getting any at all," he said. "All the coaches tell me not to worry about it, just keep playing, but I'm very hard on myself. They say you can be your hardest critic, and that's how I envision myself."
When Atlanta (1-6) hosts San Francisco (2-5) on Sunday, Anderson may have his best chance yet. The 49ers have allowed 26 sacks, third most in the league.
Right end John Abraham, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has maintained his high standards with five sacks, but injuries have sidelined star tackle Rod Coleman, who led all NFL interior linemen with 44.5 sacks, for five games.
During the first month of the season, Abraham occasionally would tease Anderson, but as the Falcons' losses have mounted, the jokes have stopped.
"I'm serious," Abraham said. "He's got to step up. They gave him some money, so it's time to show some improvement. That's what this league is all about. I'm not saying we're trying to make him stress about it, but if we're going to do what we want to do, everybody's got to contribute."
Anderson also has the unenviable task of trying to replace Patrick Kerney, who left as a free agent for Seattle in March. In eight seasons with the Falcons, Kerney had 58 sacks, third-most in franchise history behind Claude Humphrey and Chuck Smith.
If it's any consolation to Anderson, Kerney entered his third year with just five career sacks. That's why Abraham, a veteran of eight seasons and a 13th overall draft pick for the New York Jets in 2000, wants the rookie to keep expectations in perspective.
"I'm not saying it's just about sacks, but making plays," Abraham said. "However it comes isn't up to any one certain thing. You don't have to have a four-sack game to say you belong up here with us, but you have to play your technique right and do everything that the coaches ask. If you do that well, then you'll be OK."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press