Senior slot receiver needs just 31 receptions to be school’s all-time leader in category
Published: Thursday, October 7, 2010
Updated: Thursday, October 7, 2010 00:10
In just his second season at West Virginia, slot receiver Jock Sanders showed the nation he had what it took to be something special.
That year, the sophomore caught a team-high 53 passes and seven touchdowns, emerging as West Virginia's third big-play threat behind Pat White and Noel Devine.
A little more than a month after the season, in which he garnered second team all-Big East Conference honors, Sanders' career with the Mountaineers seemed to be in jeopardy.
He was arrested for driving under the influence in early February 2009, prompting Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart to suspend him indefinitely.
Fast-forward to the present, and Sanders is a changed man.
"That stuff's behind Jock Sanders now," Stewart said. "That's just water under the bridge."
Sanders served his suspension and was back with the team when it started fall camp in 2009. In his junior year, Sanders took his game to an even higher level than it was the year before. His 73 catches were the most of any West Virginia wide receiver since Darius Reynaud had 64 in 2007. Those 73 catches ranked fourth in school history in a single season.
Not bad considering Sanders wasn't a wide receiver when he came to Morgantown. He spent his freshman year as a running back, but was stuck behind Steve Slaton and Devine before eventually making the move to receiver as a sophomore.
"I'm the type of guy that can be used anywhere, and that's what the coaches saw in me," Sanders said. "Noel was the better running back, so he played running back. But (the coaches) didn't want to lose a guy who could make plays and sit him on the bench."
Now, as a senior, Sanders is one of the guys his teammates, especially the younger receivers on the Mountaineers' roster, can look up to.
"He's showing the young guys the ropes, and he's been a tremendous role model for our young football players," Stewart said. "He works so hard and he works all the time. He's one of the first to get in here and one of the last ones to leave."
Through four games in 2010, Sanders has caught 24 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns and is just 31 receptions away from passing David Saunders record for the most in school history.
Through it all, Sanders believes he has grown since his troubles after his sophomore year, but he'll let others be the ultimate judge of that.
"I can say I've grown (as a person), but I can't really see it," Sanders said. "People have to be the judge of that. I just think I'm a guy who's turned his life around and changed the things that I needed to change to able to live right."
Ask Stewart, and he'd say Sanders has developed into one of the team's best leaders.
"He's been a dream to coach, a real joy," Stewart said of Sanders. "He's a guy who's going to stay with me for the rest of my life and my coaching career because he's been that example that if you do things right, good things will come to you."