"It's really weird that I go to a school where the team is the Seminoles but our colors are orange and blue," said Sanders, a 6-2, 298-pound three-star (by Scout.com) rated defensive tackle. "Saturday, I was in the right colors (orange and blue) and cheering for the right team (Florida) and my boys did what they should do every year. The crowd was awesome. It was enthusiastic and loud, the team was spirited and fired up, and my boys just dominated. You can't ask for more than that."
Sanders committed to Florida back in July after attending the Urban Meyer football camp. He was a dominator at the nose tackle position in the camp and he was on his way to an all-star season when he tore a meniscus in his knee.
"I had 16 tackles and forced a fumble in my first game and in my second game I had 14 tackles and a sack and a half," he said, Sunday night. "I was really doing good when I hurt my knee. Since then I've just concentrated on rehabbing and getting my knee stronger, strengthening my upper body and staying on top of things with the books."
During his last grade period, he had a 3.33 GPA and he also got good news when his ACT score came back with a 20.
"I'm fully qualified now and I'm ready to get up to Gainesville and get my career started as a Gator," he said. "Corey Hobbs (four star defensive tackle from Oviedo and fellow Florida commit) and I were talking about it Saturday. Both of us can't wait to get to Gainesville and do everything we can to bring back the championship tradition to the University of Florida."
While at The Swamp Saturday, Hobbs and Sanders spent extra time with Tampa Jefferson's standout offensive tackle, Daron Rose. Rose has Florida, Florida State and Michigan on his final list of schools.
"We told him, man you really don't want to go to Florida State," said Sanders. "We told him this is where you want to be. Florida's got everything you want and it's right here close to your home. I think that we got his attention and the way the Gators played, I think he's started to sway toward Florida."
There is a real bond that is forming between Sanders and Hobbs. The two have become great friends who hook up at all the Florida games. They spend a lot of time talking about the future and what it's going to be like lining up on the defensive line for the Gators.
"Both of us can't wait to get up to University of Florida and show the fans what we're capable of doing," he said. "We want to show everybody that the writeups aren't just hype, that we really can do it."
In the Gator Room Saturday he met up with Coach Urban Meyer. Sanders said that every time he speaks with Meyer, he becomes more certain that he made the right choice to be a Gator.
"He told me he can't wait for me to get up here and be a part of game days like this," Sanders said. "He said to come up here in playing shape because I have to be ready to play from day one. Then he asked about me, my family and how everything else is going on. It's not all about football with him and that's one of the big reasons why I'm going to be a Gator."
It's not all about football with Greg Mattison, either. Mattison, the co-defensive coordinator at Florida, will be Sanders' position coach. Sanders said that he and Hobbs have formed a special bond with Coach Mattison.
"He's a real enthusiastic coach who cares about how your family is doing, how school's going on, what's happening with your family … and you know can go to him to talk about anything in the world," said Sanders. "That's the way they all are at Florida. Every coach at the University of Florida is like that."
Sanders and Hobbs are the first two defensive linemen that Mattison has recruited to the University of Florida. In Florida's first recruiting class under Coach Urban Meyer, the Gators didn't sign a single defensive lineman.
"We want him to remember the first two guys he recruited as two guys who came there and played their hearts out for him," Sanders said. "It made me feel so good that he chose me to be one of the first defensive linemen that he recruited to Florida. I want to get up there and play my heart out for him. He's a great coach but I think he's a better person than he is a coach. That's why I want to play for him."
The knee is almost completely healed now. He's followed doctor's orders strictly and the rehabilitation plan has worked to near perfection. The pain and swelling are long gone and he will be able to return to full speed workouts within a week or two.
"In about a week, maybe two, I'll be able to go full speed with the kind of weight training and strenuous running that I need to do to get ready to play at Florida," he said. "My goal is to be in the best shape and ready to go the day I get there."
Meanwhile he has to finish high school at Southeast. He says he's proud that he's been a Seminole in high school, but at the next level, that just has to change.
"The colors are right at Southeast but the name … I love my school, but, well, they need a new name," he said. "I'll get that name corrected when I get to Gainesville. I'll be wearing orange and blue like I always do but it will say Gators on it not Seminoles. I like the Gators. I always liked the Gators."