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Magneto Mavin: Wideout Mavin Anderson is a charismatic force

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OCTOBER 28, 2022

It’s a fall evening in Berkeley and it’s rather warm out. Cal football practice has just ended. Some players have stayed behind to get a few more reps in. Everyone is drenched in sweat; after all, it’s still about 70 degrees out after an early afternoon high of 88. Mavin Anderson, Cal’s stud redshirt freshman receiver, had been asked to stick around after practice for a photoshoot. 

About a week later, I spoke to Terry and GeeJay Anderson, Mavin’s parents. His father is a former Marine and coached Anderson’s football and baseball teams up until high school. He speaks confidently and answers my questions — even before I have a chance to ask them. 

“He had his long sleeves on, didn’t he?” asked Anderson’s father. 

Yes, yes he did. 

In fact, a coach had come up to Anderson and teased him about it, pointing out the fact that it was unusually warm out. Why the long sleeves?

“It’s the oddest thing,” his father said. “Mavin, he’s in elite shape. But you very seldom see him with a shirt off.”

When we finally sit down to talk, Anderson is still in his shoulder pads. He’s gentle, a little shy. He doesn’t draw attention to himself. But he doesn’t need to: He’s got an aura about him, one that demands attention. 

That’s why his aunt Mariquet, his mother GeeJay’s sister, calls him “Magneto Mavin”. 

“The reason why she calls him that is because he attracts,” his father said. “People are drawn to him. … That is going to take him further in life than any football will.” 


The word “maven” means “expert” in Hebrew. Anderson’s mother explained that her son Mavin — with an “i” — always wanted to be an expert in everything he did: He wanted to be perfect and in complete control. 

Whether Anderson wanted to live up to his name or simply had perfectionist tendencies is another question. The name fits him well. But to be an expert in something, one needs patience and lots of experience. As a child, Anderson had neither, which led to some terrible frustration. 

Through elementary and middle school, Anderson played both football and baseball. On the football field, he was a running back before transitioning to wide receiver in high school. On the baseball diamond he played a little bit of almost everything: pitcher, catcher and outfield. Everything but infield. Why?

“Well, I was scared of the ball,” Anderson said. “I was the kid in the batter box that would lean backwards when the pitch was coming in.”

The one thing Anderson wishes his parents hadn’t done was make him play baseball for as long as he did. Through a grin, he sheepishly explains that he was a stubborn kid, one that would drag his feet to practices and tournaments. He said he’d rather get hit by Micah Parsons on a pass over the middle than get hit with a baseball. 

His mother theorizes that it’s about control. The logic goes that a batter in the batter’s box is a sitting duck with too much time to worry about what could go wrong. But a receiver in the open field, a pitcher or a catcher is in control of his own destiny — he can call his own pitch or, if you’re arguably Cal’s fastest receiver, simply outrun everyone. Anderson’s 2020 high school track season got cut short. But according to his mother, by March he had already run a 10.6 in the 100 meters. 

At the age of 15, Anderson received his first scholarship offer from Oregon. According to his father, by the time he had graduated from high school he had amassed 42 total scholarship offers — including one from his dream school: that team down in Palo Alto. 

“I’m going to say something and (you) can print it or not,” his father said. “He was a Stanford guy all his life. All the way up until Stanford started recruiting him.” 

According to Terry Anderson, every time a Stanford recruiting representative found himself at Anderson’s alma mater Mission Viejo High School, the four-star receiver with offers from the best programs in every Power Five conference had to reintroduce himself. 

Now he’s a part of a talented wide receiver core that includes Jeremiah Hunter and J.Michael Sturdivant. He has started in four of Cal’s first seven games this year as a redshirt freshman and made the play of the game against Washington last week: an acrobatic touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to bring the Bears within a score. 

Stanford will know who he is very soon. 


Were there any surprises upon arriving in Berkeley? 

“I didn’t think that I would fit in so well. I thought I’d have a really big adjustment period,” Anderson said. “When I go to school on campus, I feel like a real student. It’s kind of like two separate lives: I feel like I’m not just like a football player on campus, I feel like I’m a student.”

Anderson’s father describes him as being a “rotisserie guy, not a microwave guy:” He takes a little while to warm up. I got that sense when I sat down with him. 

But Cal’s No. 11 didn’t experience that when he came to Berkeley. He immediately connected with his talented class of 2021 teammates, including Kai Millner, Cal’s redshirt freshman quarterback and one of Anderson’s roommates. Some of them carpool to and from campus every day. Millner has a car and is usually the one tasked with driving. 

Is Millner a good driver? Anderson’s eyes light up. 

“This is funny. This has to be on the record. This is actually really funny because I tell him all the time, he’s not a good driver,” Anderson said. “He has a sore spot for that, so I’m glad that’s on record.”

See? He’s not always bashful. He just needs some time to get to know a person. Then, the confidence shows. 

Towards the end of the interview he boldly told me that preparing for the NFL Draft is among a long list of things he intends to do over the course of these next few years. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when. And they weren’t the words of a conceited 19-year-old who likes to show off his abs every chance he gets, but of a multi-talented, grounded college student — wise beyond his years. 

The most touching part of our conversation came when Anderson spoke about his younger brother, Mitchell, or “MJ”, who just turned 13. Anderson’s mother says MJ adores his older brother. 

“He likes to come at me with a lot of questions about college football and college in general,” Anderson said. “But it’s more than (being) the idol, big brother, football player with him. He loves me for who I am.” 

Anderson clearly has always put a lot of pressure on himself to be the best, to be in control both academically and athletically. And he may get teased every once in a while for practicing in a long-sleeve shirt while others draw attention to themselves, but he’s found acceptance for who he is from his little brother, his parents and his school. 

With that kind of support, the NFL Draft can’t seem like such a long shot for a magnetic kid like Mavin Anderson.

Contact William Cooke at 


OCTOBER 28, 2022