Born: May 9, 1993
Robert Steven Anderson was born May 9, 1993, in Fair Lawn and spent the first few years of his life in Teaneck. His mom, Kim, moved the family to Florida when Robby was a boy. His father, Jason, remained in New Jersey. Active in a number of sports, Robby combined lightning speed with great hand-eye coordination. As he grew to over six feet, Robby began gravitating toward football.
Robby became a starter for the varsity football team at South Plantation High as a sophomore, playing defensive back and receiver for coach Doug Gatewood. The Paladins earned national attention a couple of years after Robby graduated when they made Erin DiMeglio their third-strong quarterback. In four years at South Plantation, Robby gained nearly 2,000 yards as a receiver during his high school career and scored more than 20 touchdowns. He also lettered in track three years.
Several college programs were interested in Robby—including Illinois and Indiana—primarily as a defensive back. In the end, he chose Temple, in Philadelphia. He was just a couple of months past his 18th birthday when he arrived on campus, and the team decided to red-shirt him in 2011. In 2012, Robby saw sporadic action, primarily on special teams. The following season, new coach Matt Rhule came aboard after several successful seasons as an assistant with the Giants. One of his first moves was to shift Robby—who was now 6’3 and 190 pounds but still could run a 4.3 40—to receiver. He caught 44 passes, score 9 TDs and set a school record with 239 receiving yards in a game against Southern Methodist.
Robby was never a serious student, and he failed to match his success on the football field with success in the classroom. Declared academically ineligible for 2014, he returned to Florida, where he took community colleges classes for a year before being readmitted to Temple. In 2015, he reeled in 70 passes for 939 yards—both ranking second all-time for the Owls. Unfortunately, that didn’t impress NFL scouts, who worried about his physique and his football IQ. He was astonished when not a single pro team called his name in the 2016 draft.
Robby decided to stay local and signed with the New York Jets as a free agent. He rolled into camp hoping to catch on as the team’s fifth receiver. He beat out a couple of more experienced invitees and caught his first pass as a pro in a September game against the Chiefs. The following week, he started against the Seahawks. When Eric Decker was injured in October, Robby became the team’s starting slot receiver for the remainder of the campaign. Robby finished 2016 with 42 catches for 587 yards and a pair of touchdowns in only 8 starts. He seemed to have that hard-to-find ability to make big plays, and his raw speed ranked among the swiftest wideouts in the NFL.
As the 2017 season got underway, Robby was one of the big stories in training camp. The Jets anointed him their #1 receiver after Decker was released, Brandon Marshall left via free agency and Quincy Enuwa went down with a neck injury. In a year when little is expected of the team’s offense, Robby will nonetheless be subject to great expectations. He’ll likely be facing opponents’ top coverage guys, and they will almost certainly try to outmuscle him as he comes off the line. It’s a rebuilding year for the Jets, but could be a make-or-break one for Robby.