Sanchez ready to return to Baylor

It will be familiar territory for OU cornerback Zack Sanchez when he takes the field at Floyd Casey Stadium.

For a lot of Oklahoma's players it's going to be their first trip to Floyd Casey Stadium when 10th-ranked OU is at No. 6 Baylor on Thursday night.

That's not the case for redshirt freshman cornerback Zack Sanchez. Not a lot was expected of Sanchez heading into the season. He was getting the start for the first game because Cortez Johnson had to serve a one-game suspension.

Sanchez has never given that spot back. He was easily the biggest surprise of the first half of the season for the Sooners. He's still performing at a high level, but it's no longer a surprise.

Thursday night he's going to be donning the crimson and cream. But once upon a time, he thought he would be playing all his home games in Waco, Texas.

"Crazy how things have gone," Sanchez said. "I'm excited to go down there and play my game."

Sanchez, ranked a three-star cornerback coming out of high school, was a firm Baylor commit for the Class of 2012. He said he made several unofficial visits to the stadium. Being that it's only an hour away from home, it made sense.

As the Sooners were looking to close out their 2012 class, defensive coordinator Brent Venables looked at Sanchez again. He told Sanchez that Mike Stoops was going to be taking over the defense as Venables became the defensive coordinator at Clemson.

Sanchez made an official visit to campus the weekend before signing day and flipped his commitment to the Sooners a day after returning to Keller, Texas.

"Finally," said Sanchez about OU taking some interest in him. "Finally everything is coming. I called the coaches and told them myself. One thing my dad said you got to be a man about it and let them know. They were obviously upset but felt like it was the best decision."

There was no way of knowing how Sanchez's career was going to go at OU. Last year it was understood it would be a redshirt season. But it was more about how he would respond to sitting out the year.

In the first game of the season he played well. Well enough that a lot of people were wondering if Johnson was ever going to see the field. Those that have come to know him best knew Sanchez wouldn't be in trouble.

"I really didn't have to say much," senior cornerback Aaron Colvin said. "He knew what he needed to do. He knew the expectations placed on him, and he's just been balling."

The bloom is not off the rose yet. Through eight games, Sanchez has been up to almost every single challenge. He's by far the team leader with 10 pass breakups and has also added 31 tackles.

"People are attacking him, but he's stepping up and coming to the plate every game," nickelback Julian Wilson said. "It gets to the point now where some teams stop attacking him after he gets a couple of PBUs."

Sanchez knew full well a lot of action was headed his way, playing opposite Colvin. While most players enjoyed the bye week, Sanchez was itching to get back out there.

Against Texas Tech there were a few plays where Sanchez was out of position, and the Red Raiders took advantage.

"It's just technique, eyes being in the wrong place, stuff like that," Sanchez said. "It's stuff that's very fixable. But it's frustrating doing it and seeing it especially after the game and watching film because a couple of those plays could have been costly to the team."

So Thursday Sanchez returns to Floyd Casey Stadium. Not suiting up for the Bears but as one of the vital cogs for OU's defense.

"It's not going to be strange, but it's more of a challenge there, especially with the history there," Sanchez said. "I know it's coming. They're probably going to take extra shots at me. It's just something you've got to be prepared for and something I'm excited about."

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