Anders’ search leads him back to BGSU


The transfer portal has taken over headlines in the college football world, but many players do transfer for the right reasons.

Bowling Green State University 6-foot, 230-pound senior interior linebacker Darren Anders entered the transfer portal with only one year of football eligibility remaining.

The reason he wanted to transfer? He graduated from BGSU last December with his degree in business management, so he was looking for the right school to get his masters in business administration. Who can blame him for that?

He found the right school, and he didn’t have to go far to find it. It is BGSU, where last year’s preseason All-American will return to play his final year of college football.

No one could feel better about that than the BGSU coaches and fans because last year Anders started all 13 games after being chosen to the preseason Butkus Award Watch List, the Bronko Nagurski Watch List, the Bednarik Award Watch List, and Lombardi Award Watch List last year.

He also made the Athlon Sports and Phil Steele preseason first team All-Mid-American Conference teams and expect the preseason accolades to begin mounting soon for this upcoming season.

Championship on his mind

However, Anders wants more than getting his MBA — he wants to bring a MAC title to BGSU.

“I just decided after just a few days of being in the portal that the place that I wanted to be, starting out here in 2019 when things were at its worst, and just being able to come back and complete our mission of winning the MAC championship,” Anders said.

“That’s what it’s all about for me. I want to be able to help this team as much as possible. I really attribute the leaders of this team, I love this team, I love my brothers here.

“Coach (Scot) Loeffler has been amazing to me and this team, so I don’t think there would be anything sweeter than to win a MAC championship and completely turn things around.

“We’ve been in the right direction but being able to win that MAC championship — I think that is a legacy thing here, and that’s what we want to do.”

Anders has had an impact since he arrived at Doyt Perry Stadium. In 2019, he played in 11 games, starting once as a freshman, and finishing the season with 20 tackles, including 10 solo, 2½ for a loss and a sack. He had nine tackles, including five solo tackles, at Buffalo.

In 2020, he started five games and led the Falcons with 55 tackles, an average of 11 per game, which was the highest single-season average for a BGSU player since Dwayne Woods averaged 11.2 in 2010.

Anders had at least 10 tackles three times, including 14 against Buffalo, and had a forced fumble at Ohio and fumble recovery at Toledo.

In 2021, he started all 12 games, notching double-digit tackles in seven games and finishing the year No. 1 in the MAC with 124 tackles. He also finished with three sacks and 8½ tackles for a loss, and was named MAC East Defensive Player of the Week after getting 14 tackles and a sack at Tennessee.

That year, he also recorded a pick-6 for 27 yards against South Alabama, and notched at least one TFL in eight of the 12 games.

Last year, he had nine tackles against Eastern Kentucky, four stops in the Falcons’ win over Marshall, five tackles at Mississippi State, and recorded nine tackles, assisted on a sack and had one pass break-up at Akron.

He led BGSU with seven tackles against Miami, helping a defensive effort that held the RedHawks to just 189 yards of total offense. Anders had five tackles and forced a fumble in a win over Western Michigan and had a team-high 11 tackles against Kent State.

Anders had seven tackles, assisted on a tackle for a loss and had two quarterback hurries against Toledo, he had four stops against Ohio, and led the team with eight tackles against New Mexico State in the Quick Lane Bowl.

To say Anders loves playing defense is putting it mildly.

“Just being a linebacker and being able to stop the other offense from scoring is fun. Just getting tackles — I’ve loved tackling people ever since I was a little kid, you know,” Anders said.

“I’ve always liked the physicality of playing defense. I love running around just playing freely. Defense is a mindset. It is all effort. Doing your job every single play, and when do that around the ball, good things are going to happen.

“That’s what our philosophy at BG is — just run to the ball and good things are going to happen. Hitting people is more fun than getting hit, right?”

Back to his future

Even though his mindset is on getting the Falcons a championship and making a statement his final season, who can blame Anders for having a little NFL on his mind?

“I just want to have the best year possible, give my team the best chance to win and in doing so, and play the best football that I can possibly play,” Anders said.

“I’ll put in all that hard work on film and hope to get a shot to play in the NFL. That’s the dream, that is the goal and that is what I set my mind to every day.”

That’s where the MBA comes into play and why it was so important for Anders to find the right school for it. A shot at the NFL may be in the cards for Anders, but the MBA was high on his priority list, too.

“The business school in BG was definitely huge,” Anders said. “Being able to complete my MBA in one year was huge. I will be graduating in December, at the end of this football season, with my MBA. It’s fantastic, for sure.

“I was only in the portal for four or five days, so it was a pretty quick decision. I didn’t want to leave Bowling Green, so as soon as I talked to coach Loeffler about wanting to come back, he welcomed me with open arms asking me back and said that he wanted me to be here with him.

“That was definitely very important to me. As soon as that happened, everything with the business school got squared away. I started school quickly and I’m almost done.

“The man in charge of the MBA program helped me out a lot, and just the fact that you could get it done in a year — spring semester, summer semester, fall semester — once you get all that done, you’re done.”

Originally from North Olmsted coming from a football background — his father Mark Anders holds multiple rushing records and was an NCAA Division III All-American at Baldwin-Wallace — Darren recorded 260 tackles over his high school career, including 21 sacks, 26 TFL and nine forced fumbles earning second team All-Ohio honors at linebacker twice.

Like his dad, he played on the offensive side of the ball, too, garnering 3,960 total yards and 43 TDs.

So, if there is not football in his future after BGSU, he’d like a career in medical equipment sales or pharmaceutical sales. But Anders admits with an MBA, anything is possible.

“You can do so many different things with a business degree, whether that’s in sales or getting some sort of corporate job, or maybe if I don’t want to do either of those things,” Anders said.

“I can go do something else — real estate, but just having a basic business degree is so broad and it opens so many doors for you.”

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