4-Star Defensive End Officially a Tiger

Craig Sanders signs with Auburn as a big crowd turned out or his ceremony at Ariton High School.

Ariton, Ala.--Wednesday was a big day at Ariton High School as its football star signed scholarship papers to play for Gene Chizik's Auburn Tigers.

Everybody in the school was there for a ceremony to cheer on 6-4, 235-pound defensive end Craig Sanders, a four star prospect by Scout.com.

Sanders told Inside the Auburn Tigers he is he eeager tp play for Auburn and its head coach Chizik, who convinced him Auburn is where he needs to play his college football. Sanders originally committed to the University of Alabama, but in September changed his commitment to Auburn.

"Coach Chizik is a great Christian man and I am excited about playing for him," Sanders says. "I made up my mind when I went up to visit Auburn that is where I wanted to be. It felt like home."

Sanders also notes that having the chance to play with in-state standouts such as LaDarius Owens from Jess Lanier High in Bessemer and Jawara White from Charles Henderson High in Troy influenced his decision. "Getting to know them they are great guys and guys I would like to have for teammates in college," he says.

Sanders posed for photos with each of his teammates, his coaches, the cheerleaders, student government officials and virtually the entire student body of the Class 1A school where he was a two-way star. He admits it was an emotional scene as he prepared to sign scholarship papers realizing he will soon be off to college while his classmates finish their senior year of high school. He says he had to summon up extra willpower not to cry at the signing ceremony because he was so emotional.

Sanders celebrates after sacking the quarterback in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Sanders did everything for the Purple Cats playing running back, wide receiver, defensive end, noseguard, linebacker and even some defensive back. This season he had a game in which he rushed for 278 yards and three touchdowns while adding eight tackles on defense. That shows the versatility and athleticism that Sanders will bring to the table for the Tigers.

As a senior he made 71 solo tackles with 30 assists and six sacks. On offense he rushed for 1,212 yards on 199 carries and scored 10 touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.

The 6-4, 235-pound senior was a standout last Saturday at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. Sanders, who will graduate this month, will enroll at Auburn for classes in January.

He says he has no doubt he is going to the right place. "Once I made my decision to switch to Auburn from Alabama I never looked back and I never even thought of Alabama after that," he says.

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