A player who is giving Auburn a serious look because of the chance for early playing time and the continued rise of the program is speedy Luke Sanders from West Monroe High. With 4.44 speed in the 40-yard dash at 6-4, 219, Sanders is widely regarded as one of the South's top linebacker prospects. Despite a knee injury that kept him out of most of his junior season, he hasn't let up this summer as he prepares for his senior season and a run at the state championship.
Growing up in Louisiana, it would be safe to assume that LSU is in the hunt for Sanders as the summer draws to a close and that would be right. However, this physical young man looks to be far from committing any time soon and says he's looking at schools from coast to coast.
"I have 10 offers right now," Sanders tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech, Tulane, McNeese State and Northwestern State make up that list. Right now I have been to four schools and they are going to be at the top because I have been to see them. I think Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M are the top three right now just by going and looking at them."
A visitor to Auburn earlier in the summer for the Nike Camp, Sanders came one day early in order to visit with the coaching staff and see the campus and facilities. Doing so allowed him to get an in-depth look at the program and he says he likes what he sees out of Coach Tommy Tuberville's club.
"When we went down there I got to talk to the linebacker coach (Coach Joe Whitt)," Sanders says. "He was telling me about all his players and how he really puts a lot of emphasis on graduating his linebackers. He's had a lot of great linebackers to come through there, especially these two this year. They could have gone pro, but they came back.
"That just shows you how much they want to play for Auburn and how much dedication they have. That says a lot knowing that you could go pro, but you came back to play your senior year with Auburn. It shows me that it's a great school."
In addition to Auburn, Sanders also visited Texas A&M, Colorado and LSU for camps this summer on his quest to show teams that he's fully recovered from his injury. There's little doubt he accomplished his goal after running a 4.44 at Auburn and later a 4.52 in College Station. Add in 37 reps of 185-pounds on the bench press and an average of 4.2 in the pro shuttle run and you have one of the top prospects anywhere.
A three-year starter at West Monroe, who is a rare four-year contributor at the highly regarded football school, Sanders was able to play in just two games last season. As a sophomore he totaled just more than 100 tackles and added two interceptions. With a record of 40-5 in his first three years with one state title and runner up finishes each of the past two years to Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, Sanders says he only has one goal this season, to win it all.
"Missing my junior year and having to sit there and watch while my teammates worked hard, that really put a lot of stress on me and made me want to work harder," Sanders notes. "That's what I've been doing and I've been thinking about that and my last time through. I'm really looking forward to playing my senior year and going for that state championship."