STILLWATER – Maybe you know Isaiah Anderson for his long-rumored speed, an asset he surely won't deny.
Maybe you know Anderson for his pink uniform accents on game day, a nod to his mother, Loraine Anderson, a cancer survivor.
Or maybe you don't know the Oklahoma State junior wide receiver at all – not yet – although now's as good a time as any, with his move into the starting lineup, replacing the injured Hubert Anyiam, who suffered a season-ending broken foot at Missouri.
So, who is Isaiah Anderson?
“Small-town guy,” said the Wichita Falls product, “a lot of speed and explosiveness… just ready to show it off for the fans.”
Did we mention confident guy?
Asked if Anderson was ready for his new role as starter, Cowboys offensive coordinator Todd Monken said, “I'm sure he would say he is.”
Yet if Anderson is cocky, he portrays it in a disarming fun way, always offering a smile and a laugh.
Now he's ready for more of the fun found in OSU's record-setting offense.
“I'm going into the fire right off the bat,” Anderson said, “but I'm prepared for it.”
Anderson recognizes that this isn't the best of circumstances, with OSU losing one of its top end wideouts and a feel-good story in Anyiam, who had returned strong from a series of injuries, before this latest setback. But he also recognizes the opportunity.
“It's not an ideal situation, I hate it for Hubert,” Anderson said, “but I have to make the best of it.
“I was getting in there sporadically, getting a few catches here and there, giving Hubert a break. But now I have to be that guy for the team. My team is looking for me to step into that role.”
Anderson can't be the same player as Anyiam, not at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, compared to Anyiam's 6-foot, 202-pound frame complete with the gun show at the sleeves. Anyiam offered size and speed and big-play ability, along with rugged blocking skills.
“There's certain things he will do better than Hubert did,” Monken said. “But there's other things that he won't, otherwise he would have been starting.”
Still, Anderson has something to offer.
Like his speed.
One of the fastest Cowboys, Anderson ran track for OSU in the spring of 2009 and has been timed at 4.39 in the 40-yard dash.
“He's fast,” said OSU cornerback Brodrick Brown, “he's not faster than me, but he's fast.”
Anderson, of course, sees it differently. So who gets the nod as fastest Cowboy?
“Ah, that's a good question,” he said, pretending to consider other candidates. “I can't give anybody else the nod. I'm going to have to nod myself on that one.”
Seemingly always on the brink of a breakthrough, Anderson has popped up as a playmaker at times in his career. A year ago, four of his 12 catches covered at least 25 yards. This season, he's produced three touchdowns and posted a career-best five receptions Saturday at Mizzou in relief of Anyiam.
Is he ready for a bigger stage?
“I thought once he came in the first half of last week's game, he played very tentative,” Monken said. “I thought he played like a guy who hadn't played. He didn't play fast. He didn't play comfortable.
“Then the second half, he kind of settled in. And he played a lot better. And I think he'll play a lot better. He's worked awfully hard with his ball skills and his route running. I think he's deserving of the opportunity. Now we'll just have to go see.”
Anderson won't be hard to find, with his touch of pink in his cleats, gloves and wristbands.
“Yes, I wear them for my mom,” he said. “She had cancer my senior year of high school. Last year during homecoming, I started wearing the pink cleats, but I have the gloves and wristbands to go along with the pink cleats this year.”
Anderson hopes to be noticed for his play, too.
“I talked to Hubert,” Anderson said. “I just kind of patted him on the back, gave him a hug and let him know that I was going to step up and do the best I could.
“He told to keep doing what I've been doing. He said I've been preparing well and it's my time to shine.”
X MARKS THE SPOT
Isaiah Anderson steps into the hole created by the injury to Hubert Anyiam at the “X” receiver spot.
Look for Michael Harrison to fill in there, too, moving at least in part from his role as backup to Justin Blackmon on the opposite side of the field.
“They'll be kind of a two-headed monster over there and we'll try to get the most out of both of them,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Todd Monken said of Anderson and Harrison.
Harrison, at 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, offers a more physical presence than Anderson. Perhaps a more physical presence than any Cowboy – Blackmon included.
“He might be the best after-the-catch guy that we've got; he's just not as fast as Blackmon,” Monken said. “(Harrison) can't separate. He may not be as quick, but in terms of strength – and Black will be bummed that I said that – Michael Harrison is a bear to bring down.
“He's as good as I've been around at breaking away form people. I'd have to think of how many times he's actually gone down with the first guy tackling him. I don't remember it.
“That's probably poor on my part, not throwing it to him more short and seeing if they can. He's really good at that.”
Harrison ranks fifth among receivers with 15 catches for 207 yards. His 13.8 yards per catch leads all wide receiver with at least five catches.