Andrews’ return to middle linebacker bolsters Mesa ‘D’

Colorado Mesa’s Josh Andrews works on his agility during a recent practice. After an injury sidelined him at the beginning of the year, the Mavs’ middle linebacker has solidified the middle of the defense.

It would be easy for Josh Andrews to look back and wonder what might have been.

The Colorado Mesa University senior linebacker from Mililani, Hawaii, could have stayed at the University of Hawaii or transferred to NCAA Division II power Grand Valley State (Mich.) University.

A fallout with a coach and injuries altered his route to Mesa last season, but he’s had no regrets.

“Last year was pretty awesome,” Andrews said. “There were a lot more guys from Hawaii. I was accepted quickly. Everybody was cool and welcoming.”

Although an early season injury has slowed him down some, Andrews is a tenacious force for the Mavericks’ defense. Colorado Mesa (2-6, 1-5 RMAC) plays Western State (1-7, 1-5 RMAC) at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Mountaineer Bowl in Gunnison.

Andrews went to the University of Hawaii out of high school, but had a disagreement with the head coach and decided to leave.

He transferred to Saddleback (Calif.) Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif., and played two years.

During his sophomore season, he was being recruited by several programs, but a broken foot caused many schools to lose interest.

Mesa wasn’t among those that forgot about him.

“Coach (Bill) Stafford didn’t seem real upset about that,” Andrews said. “He said to get better and come play. He’s pretty much the only coach that said that.”

Andrews rewarded Stafford’s faith in him, playing in 10 games last season, starting five. He made 38 tackles, 3.5 for a loss and had two sacks.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound linebacker was motivated to be even better this season, training most of the summer in Grand Junction.

“It worked out every day,” Andrews said. “I was stoked. I was in good shape. ... Maybe too good.”

Andrews tore a hamstring the first week of practice and missed the first four games of the season.

“He’s a very good player, but he’s never been able to do the type of things he can do because of setbacks from injuries,” CMU coach Joe Ramunno said. “Coming into the year, we were so excited because he is such a horse in the middle.

“He’s got a lot of passion and fire.”

Andrews slowly worked his way back from the nagging injury and had a season-best eight tackles last week against seventh-ranked Colorado State University-Pueblo. He has 18 tackles, including one for a loss, in four games this season.

“It feels better,” Andrews said. “It’s not 100 percent. I don’t feel like I was before I got hurt. I still go, but not as fast. It’s not the same.”

Although this season has been a disappointment for him, Andrews refuses to let up.

“If you block me, you’re not going to want to block me the next time,” Andrews said. “Our defense went hard after Pueblo. Our intensity was there.

“We’re in there most every game. It’s just one thing, a couple big plays. The only thing I will be proud of is we kept fighting.”


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