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Sanders ready to lead Oklahoma State to new heights

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STILLWATER, Oklahoma. Spencer Sanders is starting his fourth year as a starting quarterback at Oklahoma State, and he’s happy where he is.

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“Family, culture, I love the guys that surround me,” Sanders said Saturday at the Cowboys preseason press day. “I’ve fallen in love with every band they’ve brought in since I’ve been here. I love my five guys up front. I love my running backs, all my receivers. I even love the other side of the ball. We are all friends on this team.”

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The redshirted junior from Denton, Texas made 32 starts for the Cowboys, 10 more than any of his offensive teammates. His 24 wins as a starting quarterback is the third most in the history of the program that has produced NFL quarterbacks. Brandon Weeden as well as Mason Rudolph. Last season, Sanders joined Weeden as the only quarterback in school history to earn all-conference and first-team credits after leading the Cowboys to 7th nationally.

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Sanders is also one of two players in Oklahoma State history to have over 6,000 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards. His experience and success in football’s most important post is a big reason why Oklahoma State, which ended the campaign 12-2 in a Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame, has high hopes for the 2022 season.

Luckily for the Cowboys, Sanders doesn’t think the grass is greener anywhere else.

“The first year I was here, everything just fell into place — I just felt welcome,” he said. “I am very happy to be here. If I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t be. That’s where I want to be. That’s where I should be.”

In 2019, Sanders set an Oklahoma State freshman record with 2,065 passing yards to 16 touchdowns, rushed for 628 yards and scored two points, and was named the Big 12 Conference’s top offensive freshman despite missing the last two games due to injury. He missed two full games and a good portion of two others in 2020, but still finished with 2007 yards and 14 touchdowns and 269 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Last season, he anchored a young offense that has steadily improved, finishing with 2,839 yards and 20 touchdowns and 668 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. His 3,507 offensive yards and his 269.8 yards per game average led the Big 12.

Trainer Mike Gandywho himself was OSU’s starting quarterback for four years in the 1980s, appreciates what he has in Sanders.

“There is nothing that can replace experience and reputation,” Gandhi said. “He’s really good at what we do. It can run any game on our system. All of our very fast games that we have – I think we have 47 – he, in my opinion, can play them without a coach at the moment. We have a very simple offense, except for the quarterback. The quarterback needs time. Once they get it, they suddenly get better.

“It’s a lot harder to play a quarterback now than it was when I was playing, so that experience is really important. And he’s tough. He was beaten. He was molested, so he understood, and he’s fine.”

His teammates say Sanders’ leadership and skill set is invaluable.

“Having an experienced guy who knows how to push a team and knows how to win games like this inspires everyone around him,” freshman wide receiver. Bryson Green said. “There’s a level of comfort when you have a guy around who’s been in situations you’ve never been in before. He can guide you to the right path.”

Dominic Richardsonthe sophomore, considered the best runner in Oklahoma State, said the fast Sanders taught him a thing or two about running.

“He’s very explosive,” Richardson said. “Of course, he poses a double threat. He has everything and he is not afraid of blows. He makes things happen.”

Sanders will still have the season of eligibility left after this season if he chooses to take it, so there’s potential for a five-year starter.

He doesn’t think ahead.

“I feel like every year is a new year for me,” Sanders said. “I’m always happy to go out and practice with my teammates. I love being around these guys. I like getting better as a team, getting on the field, playing and competing as a team, winning together and losing together.

“I’m just happy to be around these guys. These guys bring out the best in me. Hopefully we can get back in the game and win the championship.”



Source: collegefootball.nbcsports.com

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