Saunders is Mr. Everything

DURHAM, N.C. --- As a high school coach, what do you do when you're lucky enough to have a true jumbo athlete on your roster? Play him everywhere you possibly can. That's what Durham (N.C.) Riverside head football coach Tommy Blaylock plans to do with Wesley Saunders.

  • Practice Photo Gallery: Wesley Saunders

    "Well, we plan to use him defensively a couple different ways – we'll use him as a defensive end, we'll drop him down inside some as a three-technique," said Blaylock. "Then offensively, he's going to lineup as a tight end; occasionally he'll split out a little bit; and when we go to our short yardage offense, he'll be the guy we snap the ball to."

    That's right, Saunders and his 6-foot-5, 270-pound frame will play some under center for the Pirates in their spread option-style offense.

    "Oh, it's possible that he could be throwing it," said Blaylock. "He has a good arm. He's actually our third quarterback, varsity-wise. He knows enough of the offense that in an emergency situation he could run the offense."

    Saunders is excited about his versatile – and integral -- role.

    "I've been waiting four years for this leadership and role," said Saunders. "I kind of think I deserve it, but I'm ready to go to work."

    Additionally, Saunders eager to see time under center.

    "I've always played quarterback, but coaches always look at my size and are like ‘No, quarterback for you,'" said Saunders. "[Offensive coordinator] Coach [Todd] Spell, he likes the big quarterbacks. He was coaching David Garrard back when he was 6-3, 280 [pounds]. He knows talent when he sees it, I guess.

    "I don't mind throwing, I feel I'm pretty good throwing. With the defense thinking I'm going to be putting my head down and running, it will be good trickery [to have me throw]."

    Tight end will be Saunders' primary offensive position as he will be used just as often as a receiving option and as a blocker.

    "If he's in the game, there's always a threat that we'll throw it to him," said Blaylock. "Defenses are going to have to be aware of him [in the passing game]. It's hard to say [how many passes]."

    On the next level, college coaches are split as to whether to play Saunders at tight end or defensive end. Saunders says he doesn't have a preference between positions.

    Saunders lists Louisville, North Carolina, Penn State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest as his top five. However, he isn't sure if he'll officially visit all five schools.

    "I know for sure [I'll take official visits to] Penn State and Louisville, and South Carolina should be one [I official with]," said Saunders. "With [North] Carolina, I can go up there any time I want to so I probably won't take an official up there."

    Saunders is looking to announce his college decision around the time of his high school's homecoming in late October.

    As a junior, Saunders earned all-region and all-conference honors after recording 20 catches for 308 yards and six touchdowns at tight end, as well as 52 tackles, four sacks, 14 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles at defensive end.

    Wesley Saunders Profile

  • Inside Carolina Top Stories