Rashard Anderson, a former Jackson State football star and first-round NFL draft pick has died according to a school spokesperson. He was 45 years old. Anderson, a defensive back, was picked 23rd overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2000 NFL Draft.
His teammate Sylvester Morris was drafted two selections earlier by the Kansas City Chiefs. They were the first Jackson State duo to be selected in the first round of the same draft since Walter Payton and Robert Brazile in 1975.
“Today is a sad day for the JSU family,” said Jackson State Vice President / Director of Athletics Ashley Robinson. “Rashard was one of the best players in the history of our football program and an outstanding person. He attended our spring football game in April and was excited about the program returning to championship status. Rashard will always be remembered by Jackson State University, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
Anderson was a native of Forest, Mississippi. He starred at Forest High before moving on to Jackson State.
He would make nine starts for the Carolina Panthers over the course of 27 games in two NFL seasons. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound defensive back made 65 tackles and recorded one interception.
After being released by the Panthers he briefly played for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League. After finishing his playing career Anderson worked in education in Jackson as a substitute teacher and assistant football coach.
“The Jackson State University community mourns the loss of alumnus Rashard Anderson, one of our talented former student athletes who made an indelible mark on the gridiron and throughout his professional career in the NFL,” said President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D. “He will forever be remembered for his charismatic personality and his winning attitude. Our condolences to the Anderson family and friends.”
Anderson is the most recent Jackson State player to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.