A Conversation with Joe Sanders

Inside, a conversation with Joe Sanders, who has been playing outside linebacker this spring. While Sanders, who has played three positions in three seasons at CU, thinks he's found a home, he's also hoping to get a look at tight end in the fall and possibly play both ways on occasion.

Linebacker Joe Sanders bounced around between three positions his first three seasons at Colorado. The 6-3, 220-pounder came in as a tight end, then moved across the line to outside linebacker his second year, before moving to inside linebacker last season.

This spring, Sanders has moved to the outside again, a position that he thinks best suits his skills. When asked if he thought Sanders had finally found a home, Brian Cabral, ever the hard-to-please position coach, said "I think so, but that's up to Joe."

Sanders, who will be a junior in the fall, is currently playing the outside spot behind sophomore Brad Jones.

BSN: How is the new defense different?
Everything is a little more technical. The "sam" (outside) linebacker has a little more responsibility as far as getting everybody lined up in the right positions before the snap. We're kind of the quarterback of the defense. We've got a lot on our plate in this system, but it's fun learning it though.

BSN: It wasn't that way last year was it -- the outside guy being the quarterback of the defense?
No it wasn't that way last year. The "mike" (inside) linebacker was more of the general. But now it's up to the sam to get everybody lined up.

BSN: And you weren't playing sam last year.
No, I was playing mike last year. I was at "buff," which is essentially the same as sam, my redshirt-freshman year. So now I'm back where I was. But it feels a little different with this defense.

BSN: Do you feel like you've finally found a permanent home? Because you played tight end some your first year.
Yeah, and I talked to (coach) Hagan a little bit. I'm going to try to get in on a little tight end on offense in the fall. We're not going to work on that right now; everybody needs to learn their first position right now. But, hopefully, they're going to try me out at tight end and play me a little both ways. Sam first, tight end second.

BSN: Do you feel like sam fits your skills a little better than playing on the inside?
Oh, yes. I think it definitely fits my skills a little better than mike. Because, you know, outside backer – it's more of the speed/cover guy who can also get in the box and tackle. I'm able to use my speed and athleticism when I'm out at sam.

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