When a name is announced in every NFL draft selection in recent memory, it has become quite common for the camera footage to cut to the living room of the player being drafted. Her family and friends will scream loudly and celebrate. There are often happy tears and happy shouts. But when the camera cut to Troy Andersen and his family when his name was called at No. 58 overall in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft, things were a little more reserved.
Andersen stood behind a couch, some close family members and friends scattered throughout the room, and when his name was called, there were of course smiles, and some laughed, a breathy ‘Wow’ but it was a rather muted response from a close Family in Dillon, Montana. And you know what? It was the perfect representation of how truly surreal the moment was for Andersen and his family.
The Andersen family, and their friends, didn’t need an openly loud, boisterous moment to draw their awe from their son and brother and friend being drafted. The proud smiles were enough for a group of people who know a thing or two about hard work and what it takes to be diligent in this work. So diligent, in fact, that it produces a constant habitat.
Before Andersen was drafted in the second round of the NFL draft this spring … before he was an FCS All-American and Big Sky Conference defensive player of the year … before he played quarterback, running back and linebacker for the Bobcats. .. before all that, Andersen was just a kid growing up on a cattle ranch.
“Small town Montana,” Andersen liked to say. “… (I was) doing all the typical things: moving cows, cutting hay, just hanging out with my friends, playing all the sports, things you do in small town USA.”
For many, moving cattle and cutting hay is not all too “typical” in their daily existence, but it is for the Andersen family. It was in those moments of ranch life that Andersen learned what it meant to really work, mentally and physically.
“You learn hard work and diligence when it’s cold outside and those calves are being born,” Andersen explains. “You have to be there or else they will freeze and they will die and that is your life. So, you have to be on top of things. Be diligent, never take a day off and work as hard as necessary to get the job done. “
It is the spiritual that is himself and who Andersen is as a person. It is what drove him to be the valedictorian of his high school class. It’s what brought him success and recognition at Montana State, where he did everything and anything he could to consistently produce on the field. Asking him to play quarterback? Sure, he will do it. Switch to linebacker? Yes, no problem.
In everything he did, the constant was his diligence, and perhaps also his intelligence.
Talking about how he sees schemes in front of him, Andersen breaks it down in a way that makes it all so simple.
“I think playing offense (in college) really helped me understand situational awareness, spatial awareness, how coverage really works and where all the pieces fit together,” he said. “Not just knowing your job, but knowing the whole scheme of the defense.”
He has very remarkable sponge-like qualities. He absorbs information like his water. In all honesty, it’s probably what got him to this point. That, and its general adaptability. (One could argue that came from cold Montana in the morning to take care of a herd of cattle, too).
Andersen falls in line with who the Falcons are at this point in the organization’s history. The theme of this 2022 roster has its roots in having a chip on your shoulder. Andersen epitomizes this as well as anyone. Raised in a small town in Montana, settled in a small FCS school, Andersen knows opportunities like the one he’s currently holding don’t come around very often.
“Coming from a place like Montana State, it’s a smaller school and I feel like you always have a chip on your shoulder to prove yourself and prove that you’re worthy of being there and getting picked or picked up to give,” Andersen said. “So, you’re really grateful for all your opportunities, and you know you have to make the most of it.”
For Andersen, this was his dream. He lives it actively. But he knows that this is just the dawn of his career. As the sun rises over the horizon of his family’s cattle ranch in the early morning of a cold Montana winter, this is just the beginning of a new day for Andersen.
There is still work to be done, but the moment his name was called in the 2022 NFL Draft, that surreal feeling washed over him (and his family too). Once the surreal feeling left him, however, the diligence that had been ingrained in him in his childhood returned, preparing him to seize the opportunity before him.
“Going out on that field, it’s every little boy’s lifelong dream. It was my lifelong dream,” Andersen said. “… I think I’m just looking forward to the next opportunity.”