Taking the approach that the best players need to be on the field, SMU Head Coach June Jones made a few heads turn last week when he made the announcement that wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders will get reps on the defensive side of the ball this spring. Sanders earned high praise from Jones last season, when the 1st year head coach compared him to San Francisco 49ers great Jerry Rice.
“I’m so excited about it. In high school I played cornerback and played every position. I’m all about the team,” stated Sanders to PonyStampede.com. “He (Jones) is not going to take anything away from my receiving stand point. What I will get from the situation is on third downs or big passing plays I can get out there and we can try to have the best athletes on the field.”
Sanders was freshman quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s favorite target this season. The wide receiver hauled in 67 catches for 958 yards and 9 touchdowns before missing the last two games of the year. In his three seasons at SMU, Sanders has caught 27 touchdown passes which is good for 1st place on the all-time list.
“Football is all about the athletes. An athlete is an athlete. He can play multiple positions on the field. I feel like I’m one of the best athletes on the field,” stated Sanders. “Once I learn it (the secondary), it will be all about going out there and becoming a playmaker. It’s about what I love doing. I’m envisioning going out and scoring two touchdowns. One as a receiver and one off of an interception.”
Right now Sanders, along with the rest of the Mustangs, are working hard in the weight room and individually. Sanders say he is close to 180 pounds, which is close to 10 pounds heavier than he was last season. Don’t expect to long learning period in the secondary from the wide out. For Bellville High School, Sanders was their shut down cornerback.
“I played the position in high school. I know a little about it. In the Texas High School All-Star game I played both ways and on the final drive I covered up a receiver that was going to Texas A&M,” said Sanders. “I beat him the whole game and on the last drive all that FoxSports.net showed was me and this guy going at it all the way down the field. I covered him up that whole drive.”
June Jones is not the only other person that thinks Sanders will be able to make a difference in a secondary that struggled last season.
“He is a really great athlete. I think he is perfectly capable of doing that. I don’t think it is a bad idea at all,” said freshman wide receiver Cole Beasley.
Sanders might not be the only offensive player getting reps in the secondary this spring. It is also rumored that freshman quarterback Braden Smith, a Rockwall native, will get time and reps as a safety.
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