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Keith Jackson Appearing this Friday in Norman

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On Sale at Newsstands on April 29!
Versatile Playmaker
Future prospect Drew Sanders has chance to impact both sides of the ball at OU

There are not many areas of the field where Drew Sanders has not made a play. From the line of scrimmage to 50 yards downfield, the 6-foot-5, 212-pound athlete has the ability to lineup at almost any position and find a way to impact a game.

In just the last two seasons, Sanders has played quarterback, wide receiver, defensive end and linebacker for two different schools.

“He had an unbelievable season. He’s a guy who can do a little bit of everything,” said Denton Ryan coach Dave Henigan. “He’s got a really unique skill set. He played great on defense, caught a bunch of balls, played wildcat quarterback and made a bunch of plays with his legs.

“Drew is really a difference maker.”

In his first season at Denton Ryan, Sanders’ stat line had marks in almost every box. He finished 2018 with 12 catches for 194 yards, 280 yards rushing and was 8 of 9 passing the football. The junior reached the end zone a total of 18 times, including 13 rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, Sanders posted 119 tackles with eight sacks, three interceptions and a blocked field goal.

He considered 2018 a bounce back season, having been saddled with an injury in 2017.

“Coming off my sophomore year, I had a few injuries and didn't really get to play until the playoffs,” said Sanders. “I didn't really know what to expect coming in my junior year, but I was pretty happy with how I did, especially towards the end.”

While Sanders was pleased with the way his junior campaign progressed, it was the overall play of his Raiders that most impressed him.

Denton Ryan finished the season 14-1 and was undefeated throughout the regular season. The team’s first and only defeat didn’t come until the semifinals of the 5A-D1 playoffs when the Raiders lost 43-21 to Highland Park.

“Obviously, going to the semifinals was a pretty big deal for any team,” said Sanders. “But we kind of expect to go there every year, and we were really expecting to win it all last year — but obviously fell short.”

Denton Ryan has made it to four straight semifinal games. That includes back-to-back appearances in the 2015-16 state title games. But Sanders was not part of those teams. With just one season left, he is looking to take the Raiders back to the championship.

“The things that our coaches are preaching right now is just being mentally tough and just find all the adversity throughout the season and stuff,” said Sanders. “I think our team, we’re working together and cooperating, getting good communication and all that. We’ll come together and be pretty strong.”

Since moving from Oregon to Texas, Sanders has played at three different high schools as he has followed his father, Mitch Sanders, who is also a coach.

The Sanderses started out at Lake Dallas in 2016 where the elder Sanders was the wide receivers coach. In 2017, his father accepted the position of offensive coordinator at Colleyville Heritage and brought Drew with him.

Then in June of last year, the Sanders family moved to Denton Ryan when Mitch Sanders became the tailback coach.
If Sanders is able to help lead the Raiders to a title in the 2019 season, a byproduct of the success will be winning it with his father.

“It helps me try to get an edge over a lot of other people because he knows a lot of things,” Sanders said of his father. “He’s a pretty darn good coach in that he is going to help me be a step ahead of the competition.”

Sanders said he has been playing football, with his dad as his coach, since he was a very young. He has also had the same aspirations every step along the way.

“I came off playing middle school football in Oregon and then moving to Texas. I really didn't know what to expect,” said Sanders. “My freshman year, I had a pretty good season, especially towards the end. We kind of got a few offers, my dreams kind of became a reality right there about playing in college and stuff.

“Since I was a little kid, as long as I can remember, I’ve always had dreams of even playing in the NFL, sitting in my dad’s coaches meetings and stuff.”

Sanders moved a step or two closer to that dream when he started to pick up offers from colleges across the nation as early as his freshman season. One of those programs who showed interest early on was Oklahoma.

However, being a west coast kid, Sanders knew very little about the Sooners.

“Coming from Oregon, my teams were Oregon State and Washington,” said Sanders. “My dad had family from Oklahoma, .........

(Editor's Note: Read the rest of this story in the 2019 Spring Football Issue of Sooner Spectator. To get more information, call 405-850-9063)