October 6, 2010

Sanders Jr., makes a name for himself

When one has a name like Barry Sanders, the recruiting process may be, perhaps, a bit easier when your father is an NFL legend who can provide wisdom and insight for on- and off-the-field endeavors.

However, that's not to say the younger Sanders wasn't excited when he recently saw his name, story, and highlights plastered on the front page of Yahoo.com.

"It's pretty exciting," Sanders admitted. "One of those things that's unexpected. Me and my mom had some friends call us and tell us that I was on there. It's pretty exciting, but you can't think too much of it. Life goes on afterwards."

Sanders was also quoted as describing Ole Miss - along with UCLA, Texas, and Miami - as a "fantasy" scholarship offer when he spoke to Rivals.com's Mike Farrell.

"Growing up and watching those programs compete and seeing great players come out of there, I thought it was a wild dream for me to have the opportunity," Sanders said of the four universities. "Things have been going good and I'm hoping they will stay this way. I'm privileged to play for one of those programs."

The elder Sanders played for current Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt at Oklahoma State when Nutt was an assistant in Stillwater, and the 5-foot-9 1/2, 180-pound running back out of Oklahoma City (Heritage Hall), Okla., has spoken with Nutt "maybe three or four" times.

"The (Ole Miss) program in itself is what we talked about," Sanders recalled. "We've had the chance to meet a couple times in person, so he was just saying that he would love to get me down there on the campus and how they had... Oh, what's his name, from last year... Dexter (McCluster), he's with the (Kansas City) Chiefs. (Nutt) just mentioned a couple things and how they run the ball. I saw how (Ole Miss runs the ball) when they played Oklahoma State last year in their bowl game, he was just telling me he loves my running style and all that good stuff."

Sanders, a 2012 graduate, is in possession of 12 scholarship offers. He's begun to make the rounds across the country to explore various universities and potential opportunities.

"I went to the Red River Rivalry. I went to Arkansas when they played Alabama, and next week I'm going to Alabama for the Ole Miss game. The week after that, I'm going to watch Notre Dame play Navy. I may try to get to some other places here and there. We'll see.

"Tradition is one big thing, and coaching," Sanders listed as the most important qualities in his school of choice. "I would like to be around people who know what they are doing and make me work hard to be the best I can be on the next level. Those are very important."

Sanders' Heritage Hall team is "sitting at 5-0 right now, we're getting off to a fast start," and he has almost eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark midway through his junior campaign - with 974 yards and 14 touchdowns on 75 carries.

As scholarship offers continue to mount, Sanders said he is nowhere near a decision and has not set a timetable for a commitment.

"Right now I really don't have a clue," Sanders added. "I'm just now starting to get out there and taking visits, so people will be waiting for a little while before I make my decision."

The comparisons to his father will undoubtedly continue to precede and follow him throughout his career, but Sanders plans to maintain a relentless work ethic instead of relying on genetics.

"If you go to any running back and say 'We want you to be the next Barry Sanders,' I'm sure they'll look at you pretty crazily," Sanders said. "So, for the people that automatically think I'm supposed to be that good, it's crazy. But I'm going to work hard and play my best. Whatever happens, happens."

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