Kendall Sanders is a player Longhorn fans have been excited about since before he committed to Oklahoma St. and long before he switched his commitment to the Texas Longhorns upon receiving that long coveted offer.
His athleticism and explosive play leaps off the computer screen when watching his highlights and many hardcore recruitniks refused to believe he would end up anywhere other than Austin. Luckily Mack Brown echoed that chorus and decided to allow Sanders the chance to play his preferred position of wide receiver rather than defensive back; a destiny most analysts, myself included, ordained Sanders a can’t miss prospect.
I received some information tonight that has me just as excited about Sanders at wide receiver as I ever was about him at cornerback. The short story is Sanders is 100% committed to making receiver work and will stop at nothing in order to become the best receiver he can be.
Here’s the long story.
David Robinson (no, not that one): Hey Eric, this is David Robinson, the Dallas trainer and receivers coach.
Eric Nahlin: Hey what’s going on? How are you doing?
D-Rob: We met a while back and you wanted me to let you know if I had any Longhorn information you might be interested in.
EN: Of course, I remember. What’s up?
D-Rob: I’m sure you’re aware of Kendall Sanders.
EN: Yes, he’s immensely gifted.
D-Rob: Yes he is. I’ve been working with him the last few days.
EN: Really? [I was surprised by this because the team only has a limited amount of time before they report for fall practice]
D-Rob: Yep, he came here Saturday and I’ll work with him every day until Thursday.
EN: Wow, that’s quite telling. Most of the UT players are resting before practice starts up. D-Rob: Not Sanders, this is a driven kid that works very hard.
EN: I’ve heard that before. I talked to his personal trainer in Tyler a while back. What kind of things are you working on with him?
D-Rob: All the necessary receiver skills. He’s pretty raw so we’re working a lot on route running, cone drills and some hand eye coordination drills.
EN: Most people wanted him to play DB and he is raw at receiver but he seems to have the tools.
D-Rob: He definitely has the tools, but he has a way to go until he’s really ready. We’ve been working on his routes, about what leg he needs to cut off of depending on the route and keeping his hands moving as he breaks his route off to keep his acceleration up. A lot of times a young receiver will drop his hands and that kills their momentum.
EN: For a 3A kid from Athens that’s played both sides of the ball I imagine he needs some work. What else are you working on?
D-Rob: We’ve been working on disguising his routes. Each route has to look similar…
EN: Kids don’t understand the importance of route running, about making sure your stem looks the same every time.
D-Rob: Exactly, we’ve been working on that some.
EN: Being an Athens kid how did he hear about you?
D-Rob: It’s crazy; his sister found me on Google and called out of the blue. They’ve been driving from Athens every day.
EN: That tells me a lot about him.
D-Rob: Me too. EN: What else can you say about him?
D-Rob: Like I said he’s raw, if I worked with him over the course of the year I think he’d be ready to make a big impact this year but I think he should redshirt and really jump on the scene with a year of working on his routes.
EN: Well I can tell you that won’t happen. UT needs difference makers on the outside. I’ve always envisioned him killing it in the screen game.
D-Rob: I can see that too. He can definitely help this year running verticals and like you said in the screen game. I talked to Wyatt yesterday [Robinson was recruited to OU from Dallas Kimball by Wyatt] and he said the same thing you did about screens.
EN: So Wyatt knows he’s up there working, huh?
D-Rob: He didn’t know at first but I called him up. He was asking pretty much the same things you are. He was asking what I thought of him and said he wasn’t sure what exactly he had in Sanders other than a great athlete. I’ll tell you the same thing I told him, this kid is special. I work with NFL players and a lot of college kids and this kid is a first or second round talent. I told Wyatt he has something special on his hands.
EN: I believe it, with that frame and speed…
D-Rob: Exactly, we timed him at 4.36. He just has to get more familiar with his routes and to not over think things. If he runs a 4.36, I want him to play like a 4.36.
EN: I’m sure Texas fans appreciate an OU guy training Sanders to beat the Sooners.
D-Rob: [laughing] I brought that up to Wyatt. I said I’d let him make it this time!
EN: Do you think Sanders can return punts?
D-Rob: I told him, “With your size and speed if you’re not on special teams you need to get on them.”
EN: So long term UT has a player on their hands?
D-Rob: Without a doubt. Once he learns to be a complete receiver and learn to beat press and do all the little things that go into having an all around game he’ll be unstoppable. His hands are really nice too. He doesn’t fight the ball at all. And he wants it. He wants to be perfect. If he messes up he’s really hard on himself.
Sounds like Texas fans should be pretty excited about the long term prospects of Kendall Sanders. We knew he was an exceptional athlete but a lot of kids are exceptional. It’s the hard work and inner drive that often separates and exceptional athlete and an exceptional football player.
Kendall Sanders with one more week of freedom until after the season chose to get a head start on the season.