ANTONIO SANDERS TALKS RECRUITING

[Premium article] Antonio Sanders is a 6-4, 310 lb. offensive line prospect from Fairley HS in Memphis. College coaches have been after Antonio after an impressive senior year. Coaches from MSU, UM, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Memphis have been working hard to land this top prospect. Why is he in such demand? Well, he has been timed at a 4.9 40 with excellent pass blocking skill to start.

I caught up with Antonio Sunday night after a weekend visit to Mississippi State. Here is what Mr. Sanders had to say:

You visited Mississippi State this weekend, it that right?
"Yes, I did."

What did you think about your visit?
"Oh, State, it was wonderful to me. It couldn't have been any better. I liked the campus. We saw some people (students), they were just getting back to campus. We went to the basketball game and I loved the game. It didn't seem like there was anybody on campus, but they were all at the basketball game. That gave me a chance to see all the people I would be going to school with. And then all the players, they were cool. They took me places and treated me good. You know, we kicked it. It was a good trip. I think it was one of my best trips."

You said you spent time with some players. Who did you hang out with?
"I hung out with some twins, Eric and Derrick Thompson. I don't know them apart but I kicked it with them. And then I hung out with Ray Ray (Bivines)."

What did you think of the twins and Ray Ray?
"They were cool. When I first got there, I was looking at them like, 'I don't think I'm getting along with them', but then I started talking to them and they got on my level. Then all of them were cool. Then Ray Ray, I kicked it with him before I left and it was good."

Did you spend any time with the coaches?
"Coach Lewis, he's my recruiting coach. He showed me around and talked to me about my position. But mostly it was with players."

What did Coach Lewis have to say to you about your position?
"He said he wanted me - that's what he said. Everybody says they want me but he sounds real serious. I just got off the phone with him. He was asking me about my flight back, and saying he wanted me again. He said this was his first recruiting class so he wanted to make a big impact with his first recruiting class. He told me some good stuff. At first, I was kind of mid-way with Mississippi State, but after the trip and talking to coach Lewis, they are up there - so anything is possible now. I think after the Ole Miss trip, I'll be ready to decide."

When do you take the Ole Miss trip?
"I just changed it to this week coming up (January 11-13th), trying to get it as early as possible."

How many trips have you taken already?
"This is my 4th one."

Fourth one, who have you visited?
"Arkansas, Memphis, Louisville, and Mississippi State. I ended up turning down Vanderbilt and changing it."

Do you play guard of tackle?
"I play tackle."

What are your strengths. What makes you good at what you do?
"Pass blocking."

What are the coaches you've talked to saying about your skills?
"Everybody is saying that I have a good chance to go to the league (NFL). I guess that's what they are supposed to say, but everybody can't go to the league. But they were telling me how good I pass block and they were like, that's what the NFL wants to see. Then they were like, 'do you want to go to a school that runs or passes?' And you know, Mississippi State runs and passes. So I want to go to a school with a combination. It will be a better chance for me, even if I don't go the the NFL, at least I will have a chance (at a school with a balanced offense)."

So, which school is your favorite at this point?
"All of them are even, to be honest. I'm going to talk to my head coach after the Ole Miss trip and tell him all the good stuff about each trip and then he will tell me what he thinks about the trips and then we'll go from there."

When do you think you will announce your decision?
"I think probably the week after the Ole Miss trip."

Talk more about that basketball game. What about that game?
"Yea, when I got back home, everybody was talking about that game. And I got a chance to be a recruit and see it. I mean, the first half, I was going to sleep. It was like everything Mississippi State put up, it was a brick. And I'm like, 'man, they can't hit nothing.' And then the second half came, and I'm like 'yea, it was on then.' (laugh) The refs started giving us calls and they started hitting shots and everything. It was good then. When that center hit that three, I was like, 'man, how did he do that?' It was really my first time to see a center hit a three-pointer. Then I was watching ESPN and they were saying it was luck. But he was right in the middle of the goal."

It wasn't luck, Mario Austin can shoot.
"Oh Yea, I saw that! And I liked how he was getting in front of the camera and how he was acting."

Another recruit told me you all got together and watched film clips of each other- some highlights. What was that like?
"Oh man, thats the first time I've ever seen that. They played a highlight film of all the good stuff you were doing. Man, that was neat right there - they had the music and everything."

Of all the recruits there, who was most impressive on the highlight films?
"The kicker. (Keith Andrews was visiting this weekend) That man was kicking 53 yard field goals and I was like, 'man, how is he doing this!', and everybody was saying, 'rewind it, rewind it!' He is going somewhere big."

Thanks for your time Antonio.
"OK."

Antonio was a fun interview. He seemed to enjoy talking about his visit to MSU and the recruiting process in general.-Brent


Brent Bozeman is a correspondent for Gene's Page. He can be reached by email at bozeman@telepak.net


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