Legge: Sanders Just Makes Plays

ATHENS - Lost in the post-game euphoria in No. 16 Georgia’s 28-27 win was the final game-winning play of the night.

Official statistics said that Juwon Briscoe forced a fumble and recovered it to win the game. But anyone watching the final play of the game saw that the Ol’ Playmaker Dominick Sanders was responsible for the strip.

How many plays has the former three-star player made in his career at UGA? Remember his 54-yard TD that ended Arkansas’ chances in 2014? What about the 88-yard interception return for a TD in 2015 against Vanderbilt? He had two picks in UGA’s win over Louisville in 2014. He’s the school’s all-time leader in interception return yardage for in a season (205 yards, 2015).

Sanders had nine picks last season, which was tied for the most in the country for all sophomores. He’s added another interception this season to put his career total at nine, only four fewer than his coach, Kirby Smart, who is still the leader in career interceptions at UGA. 

I’ve got no doubt Sanders will pass Kirby - its just a matter of time.

Full disclosure, most readers know I grew up and went to high school in Tucker, like Sanders. I’ve watched him closely over the last half decade. I knew he was being under-recruited. Whenever he got on the field he just made plays. Sanders with the ball in his hands is a dangerous thing for the opposition. 

Mike Bobo, as it turns out, had been forceful about Sanders being a part of the Bulldogs for a long time. And he continued to “pound his fist on the table” about what Sanders could do.

But Todd Grantham and company thought he was too small - he was wrong about Sanders. Sure, you recruit to a prototypical size, but when someone is as gifted at making plays as Sanders is you forcefully recruit them. After Grantham left, and Jeremy Pruitt came in. After that transition, Pruitt and company wondered if it was too late to get Sanders. 

Two weeks after Pruitt came in Sanders committed to UCF. Sanders had waited around long enough for UGA to get its act together. He couldn’t wait any more, so he committed to UCF on January 19. But a week after committing to UCF, Sanders visited Auburn. The next day, January 27th, he committed to the Bulldogs. 

"This was a process of waiting,” he told me at the time. “I was waiting for (the UGA offer), and that was pretty tough. But I was going to have to continue to do what I had to do. One of the big reasons was Coach Pruitt, and the relationship we have, and his personality. I remember that since he was at FSU. He told me that (Georgia) loved me, and that (my offer) was coming. I think that when he got there it happened.”

My biggest concern with Sanders, since I had been able to be around him and seen him play many times, was that he would be too passionate - that QBs in the SEC would take advantage of his willingness to try and make big plays and play on his high level of intensity. 

But that turns out to be one his Sanders’ biggest strengths.

Its been fun watching Sanders grow up over the last five years. He’s become one of the leaders on a team that’s seen a lot of transition over the last three years. His voice is a serious one, and his play on the field is too big to ignore, even if his stature isn’t.

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