More than a Quarterback
Chazz Anderson is finding his way in Buffalo
Published: Sunday, September 18, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
On Buffalo's first home football game of the season, a virtual unknown stepped in under center. The squad's new quarterback – the back of his jersey read "Anderson" – took the first snap and bombed a 57-yard touchdown pass.
No. 7 pumped his fists. But still, fans were left with one question: Who is the new man under center?
That man is Chazz Anderson. Onlookers only needed that one play to recognize that he can play quarterback, but to truly understand Anderson, there are a few things you need to know.
He wants to be a pastor. He's only 22 years old, but he's engaged to marry the love of his life. His family means the world to him. And his whole life has prepared him to be the leader the Bulls desperately needed.
Faith and Football
On Saturdays in the fall, you'll find Anderson on the football field.
But on Sunday, regardless of how the game turned out the day before, Anderson leads his teammates in a different arena – his church.
Last year, the Bulls struggled to find leadership at the quarterback position. It's only taken Anderson two months to unite his team.
On his first night in town, he met with senior safety Josh Copeland. The two bonded over dinner.
"It was weird," Copeland said. "I don't know how, but we just clicked. The first day he got here, you could just tell he was a leader. He had that aura and charisma about him that guys cling to."
There's a reason Anderson is so effervescent, and it's not because he's a standout athlete or a college grad.
Anderson plans on becoming a pastor when he graduates from college. Though he has a bachelor's degree in communications from Cincinnati, he plans on going to seminary to achieve a master's of theology and a master's of divinity. At UB, Anderson is working on a master's of education, because he also wants to teach at a Christian school some day.
"My life is dictated by my love for Christ and my love for others," Anderson said. "I'm a firm believer in enjoying every moment, loving the people you're with, and honoring God."
Anderson's mother, Rochelle, said she saw his future unfolding when he was just a kid.
"I knew that he always loved church and loved the Lord as a child," Rochelle said. "Looking back, I see it now. When he would go to the neighborhood bible study next door when he was in the third grade, he'd come back and be super excited about what the lady talked about – besides her waffles that he really liked."
The Making of a Quarterback
A five-year-old boy stands in his backyard in Pickering, Ohio. His hand protects his heart as his mom sings the national anthem. He requests that she sings it every time he goes outside to play. His eyes are closed. The grass is taped with yard lines. Ten, five, end zone. His feet are right where they belong – on the football field.
It's been evident that Anderson is different from most athletes ever since he stepped foot on campus in July.
"Even though he's the rough and tough football player that you see on the field, he really has a caring and sensitive side," Rochelle said. "You always see an exterior and you think of a certain stereotype of how football players are supposed to be – and he is, when he's on the football field – but off the field, he has a big heart."
The priorities in that heart are clear: Faith, Family, Football. In that order.
Next to his relationship with God, Anderson's family is most important to him. He's extremely close with his mother, father, and younger brother.
Anderson's brother, Kane, is a freshman receiver at Kentucky Christian. Kane says Anderson is his role model. They always call each other after their games.
As kids, Anderson forced Kane to play catch.
"Even when I got to the phase when I just wanted to sit around and play video games all day, he would come into my room and make me go outside and throw the football with him," Kane said. "He would throw it at me and I'd have to run and get it, because he threw too hard for me to catch."
Outside of Anderson's mother, there's only one woman who knows nearly everything about him – his fiancée, Chelsea Rickenbacker. Now that Anderson is in Buffalo, he generally doesn't see Rickenbacker for weeks on end. They've been dating since Anderson was a sophomore in high school.
"Every time I leave him, I just cry the whole next day," Rickenbacker said. "I'm miserable. I'm not myself. He's my other half and my better half. The long distance is extremely hard."
Though Anderson struggles with the distance, he told his family and his fiancée that he knew he needed to move to Buffalo because he needed to have a shot to start at quarterback.