(Editor’s note: MTN Sports began recognizing some of the best football players in Montana history on July 2 with the launch of the #MTTop40. The series started with defensive backs and will run eight weeks, featuring one position each week, concluding with quarterbacks the week of Aug. 20-24 to coincide with Montana’s high school football season opener.)
No. 2 defensive back – Colt Anderson, Butte
From a winless season at Butte High School to walking on at Montana to signing with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent, it was never easy for Colt Anderson, who has epitomized ‘Butte Tough’ both on and off the football field.
Colt Anderson stat sheet
Anderson was a three-year letterman at Butte High, where he recorded 310 tackles, nine interceptions, 850 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns during his career. He was an honorable mention all-state selection as a junior and garnered first-team all-state honors at safety during his senior season in 2003. A 2004 graduate, Anderson walked on at the University of Montana.
He first saw the field for the Grizzlies in 2005, appearing in five games. He earned a scholarship prior to the 2006 season and blossomed into one of the best safeties in the Big Sky Conference. He recorded 92 total tackles as a sophomore and was awarded all-conference recognition. By his junior season, Anderson was one of the best defensive backs in the entire country. He racked up 85 tackles, intercepted four passes and forced three fumbles on his way to honorable mention all-American honors. His senior season was one of the best in UM history: Anderson totaled 129 tackles, the second most in a single season in program history, grabbed three interceptions, recovered two fumbles and forced another one. He was voted team MVP, was an all-Big Sky selection for the third time and earned first-team all-American honors. His 313 career tackles rank seventh on Montana’s all-time list.
Anderson signed with the Minnesota Vikings as undrafted free agent in 2010, which kicked off an eight-year NFL career. The Philadelphia Eagles signed Anderson off the Vikings’ practice squad in late 2010 and he spent four seasons with the Eagles before joining the Indianapolis Colts in 2014. Anderson spent 2016 and 2017 with the Buffalo Bills and is currently a free agent. During his NFL career, Anderson has appeared in 84 total games, racking up 109 total tackles and one interception.
… on Anderson:
Butte High coach Arie Grey: “You look at what Colt did and he’s done in his career, it’s pretty special. He’s a physical guy they could bring down in the run game. I don’t think he’s afraid of anybody. He didn’t care how big the guy was, he was going to hit him. That’s a pretty special thing to have for a defense. If you look at their secondary at that time, it was kind of fun to watch. Man, they were pretty dang good. You look at Colt and Shann (Schillinger) and those guys and what they did, they brought that legion of boom, and they were that tough, hard-nosed football team. Colt, he’s such an amazing individual – what he’s done with the individuals and youth of Butte, what he’s done for our football program at Butte High School by coming back and working with our kids. It always meant something to be from Butte for Colt. When he went down there he was a walk-on and wasn’t going to settle for anything other than getting on the field. That’s pretty special, because there’s a lot of people, they’ll give up. Colt probably had some moments where he was afraid that it wasn’t going the way he wanted it, and he stuck with it, busted his butt, made himself a phenomenal player and one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of Butte High School.”
Former Montana safety and current UM safeties coach Shann Schillinger: “Obviously a tremendous player on the field, played the way the game is supposed to be played – physical, tough, with passion. Then off the field, just a tremendous dude, a great leader, a guy I consider one of my best friends, learned a lot from, very close to today and really happy and proud of what he’s done with his career. Eight, nine years in the NFL is not easy to do, but also more proud of the person he is and how humble and hungry he’s stayed throughout the course of his career.”
Colt Anderson: “I remember during my whole NFL process trying to enter the league, and they said, ‘Who’s the toughest competition you played against?’ And I always go back to the guys I practiced against every day. Marc Mariani, Chase Reynolds, Mike Ferreter, Cole Bergquist, those guys are the best guys I’ve ever played against, because we really pushed each other on and off the field and made each other better.
“My first year in the NFL I got to play with Brett Favre, then Michael Vick, Andrew Luck, then this last year with Tyrod Taylor. Those guys are just high-character guys, goes back to just doing the right things. Obviously they’re phenomenal athletes with amazing arms. They’re phenomenal football players, but even better guys, and I’m so lucky to share the field with them.”