Sanks: NFL Bound?

Can Jasper Sanks make a spash in the NFL like other former Georgia stars?

When Jasper Sanks stepped on the scales in front of pro scouts two weeks ago, he says he immediately heard papers being shuffled behind him.

In August, when Sanks reported for his senior season at Georgia, he weighed 255 pounds.
On March 13, when Sanks worked out and was measured with other draft-eligible players from Georgia, he was down to 230.

"You could just see (the scouts) going from one weight to the other,'' Sanks said. "Automatically, there was a lot of paper rattling.''

Added Sanks: "They couldn't believe it.''

More likely, when the subject is Sanks, a running back who earned All-America honors in high school but couldn't live up to those standards at Georgia, scouts don't know what to believe.

Sanks doesn't blame scouts for their confusion.

After he was kicked off the Georgia team by Coach Mark Richt with only two games left in his final season, Sanks blames only himself for what he now sees as the wasted opportunity of his college career.

For months since that inglorious exit from Georgia, Sanks has lived in near seclusion in a small one-bedroom efficiency apartment in Atlanta. He did not return calls from reporters and did not have much contact with anyone except his trainer, Eric Johnson, with whom he worked twice a day at the South DeKalb YMCA.

"I just let Jasper Sanks get his act together,'' Sanks said. "I was on the verge of giving it all up — school, football and everything — and just disappear. That's how embarrassed I was. But I made my bed. I had to sleep in it.''

Sanks picked out a small bed in a small apartment within walking distance of the YMCA. He says the cramped space "kind of reminds me of a jail cell.''

"I knew there wouldn't be a lot of distractions there,'' Sanks said. "Eric was a guy I had worked with before. He has been the big difference in my life to this point. To be honest, that's the only guy I've had through this process.''

Last year, only a short time before he kicked Sanks off the team, Richt talked of the former Carver High standout as a player who "will just ‘Yes, sir' and ‘No, sir' you to death. He has trouble doing his best sometime.''

Sanks has talked a good game before, only to disappoint Richt and his former coach, Jim Donnan.

Now Sanks insists he has realized his past mistakes, but he knows it may be too late for his current self-improvement project to earn him a place in the April 20-21 NFL draft.

Sanks would not discuss the act that caused him to be kicked off the team, though he says he has talked with NFL scouts "and they felt it wasn't a problem.''

"On draft day, I will sit down and discuss it and let the rest of the people know,'' Sanks said. "It was a mistake that I made and I was warned about it. It happened and Coach Richt punished me just like I think he would punish any other player that went outside the team rules. He's a very disciplined guy.''

Added Sanks: "I don't expect to get drafted, due to that situation. It hurt me.''

Still, Sanks yearns for one more chance. He knows that it will only take interest from one team or one coach — perhaps looking for the next surprise running back from Georgia, in the tradition of Terrell Davis and Olandis Gary — to give him that chance.

"I'm really on a mission,'' Sanks said. "I not only embarrassed Georgia but my teammates and some of the people who support me. I just thank God I'm blessed with that much support.''

Saying he realized that if he just "sat around and pouted, things could only get worse,'' Sanks turned to Johnson, who as a personal trainer also has worked with Quincy Carter and other former Georgia players.

At the workout for pro scouts, Sanks was clocked at 4.5 seconds and 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He did not fare as well in the bench press, but his weight loss was his more important statistic.

Said Johnson: "Jasper put the work in. I was just there to guide him. It was just him dedicating himself to what he wants out of life. I'm just making sure he has the right direction. He goes twice a day. He's been working extremely hard.''

Richt has offered Sanks the use of Georgia's facilities and says he has been impressed by the back's conditioning.

"He's nice and trim and fit,'' Richt said. "He looked good.''

Added Richt, who saw Sanks run the 40-yard sprints at the workout earlier in the month: "I just thought what he could have done (at Georgia) if he was in shape.''

Sanks said Tuesday that he is down to 225 pounds, and he wants to be at 220 or below when he has an opportunity — as a draft pick or as an undrafted free agent — in some NFL team's camp. That may surprise some scouts who think he still weighs 240-plus pounds and can only play fullback.

"Based on what all I've been through, all the speculation and rumors, all the wrongdoing and my mistakes, it seems I've been remembered more for the bad things than the good things,'' Sanks said.

"I should have given a better effort (at Georgia) than what I did. That was something I chose to change in the offseason.''

Added Sanks: "It's just sad I had to go through what I did to realize what true dedication and hard work is, to open up my eyes and realize what I've got in front of me and the opportunity I had.''

Charles can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com


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