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Illinois might have its next great TE in Owen Anderson

Mining New Jersey to find another underrated player.

Illinois Athletics

Tight end Owen Anderson is a 3-star prospect from Princeton, New Jersey and is one of four players from the Garden State — including transfer Tommy DeVito — and one of two tight ends in the 2022 recruiting class. According to his prospect profile, he was recruited by special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Ben Miller and linebackers coach Andy Buh.

Anderson stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs 235 pounds. He is most comparable to current tight end Luke Ford. The biggest difference between the two is their height, as Ford is a few inches taller. Both players demonstrate excellent hands and an aggressive mindset when blocking.

The first notable quality that jumps off the film is Anderson’s ability to catch the ball. He rarely allows the ball to come into his body; instead, he uses his hands and looks the ball in, tucks and secures, then turns upfield looking for more yardage. Anderson has a fluid stride and will be a tough matchup for most linebackers and safeties. His agility stands out, as he is able to absorb contact, stay on his feet, and produce yards after the catch. Anderson understands how to find open spots in the defense and exhibits an awareness to maneuver to where the quarterback can locate him when the play breaks down. He has been well coached in his blocking technique and is equally effective as an in-line blocker or split out wide.

Anderson collected a total of 13 offers, with notable schools like Michigan State and Georgia Tech attempting to gain his commitment. He finished the year rated as a 5.5, 3-star recruit, according to Rivals, and not ranked within the state of New Jersey. That will likely prove to be a miscalculation by Rivals, as Anderson should be rated no lower than 5.7 with the talent and skill set he possesses.

Coach Bret Bielema is looking for tight ends who can be effective as in-line receivers and split out wide to take advantage of potential mismatches in the passing game. Anderson checks both those boxes.

It’s difficult to find tight ends that display wide receiver traits while having the ability to block at a high level, but Anderson is one of those players. Enrolling early will give Anderson the opportunity to play in Year One, as he’ll learn the playbook and add more mass through the strength and conditioning program. Anderson is another example of a talented, under-the-radar recruit that encapsulates the 2022 recruiting class.