I waited at the Stephenson buses for Raymond Sanders to exit the field of play at Hallford Stadium this past Friday night and it was a good long while before he finally emerged.
The postgame, as it turns out, was nearly as eventful as the in-game for the Jaguars’ star running back. All the attention in the pregame was on M.L King’s Mack Brown and Sanders’ Stephenson teammate Mike Thornton. But afterward it was all on Sanders after his spotlight-stealing, 135-yard rushing, two-touchdown performance on national television.
So I waited until Sanders completed interviews with ESPN’s Tom Luginbill, recruiting experts from all over and local scribes.
When he finally got to the bus, Sanders had a heavy, thick chain wrapped around his shoulders. His teammates had presented it to him after the game, a weekly ritual for the Jaguars handled by the players for the players. One half of the chain is painted blue, the other black with a huge silver link in the middle.
“The blue part represents offense, the black part defense and the middle means unity,” Sanders told me proudly. “It reminds us to stay together and have faith in each other no matter what.”
The chain also goes to the player teammates deem most worthy after a game. And this was the third time Sanders was leaving a field with it around his neck.
“I had to go out there and make a statement that I’m the best back in the state,” said Sanders, a longtime Kentucky commitment. “Coach was telling me all week, ‘you’re the best back in the state; go out there and show it on national TV. So I went out there and gave it my all. My offensive line did a great job, as well as the other backs. The defense played very well to get the ball back to us. It was an overall great game.”
The exposure for Sanders has excited the Big Blue Nation and rival recruiters as well. He talked to Tennessee recruiters in town last week and others since. But Sanders assured me he intends to stick to his Kentucky decision.
“Kentucky was on me early,” said Sanders, who leads DeKalb County with 14 touchdowns and is second to Southwest DeKalb’s ken Malcome in rushing with 116 yards per game. “I committed before the season started. I felt it was the right fit for me as far as academics, athletics, facilites, coaching staff. I just thought it was a perfcect fit. So I’m committed to Kentucky and I’m going to stay a Wildcat.”
Now for a few late-morning links: