Oklahoma Sooners cornerback Zack Sanchez has played his way into NFL discussion

Defensive back has emerged as a true leader for the secondary while inching closer to pro goals

If anyone knows what decision Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez will make after this season, no one is letting on even a hint. Sanchez has played his way into the discussion of whether or not he should forgo his final season with the Sooners and enter the NFL Draft.

His teammates and his coaches haven’t even hinted that they know which way he’ll go.

“We don’t know what the future holds: If he’s going to be here next year or if he’s not going to be here,” Oklahoma cornerback Jordan Thomas said. “We just want to play our hearts out for him, if this is his last year. If not, we’ll be happy to have him next year.”

Eric Striker, Devante Bond and Charles Tapper can’t return to the Sooners next year, having exhausted their eligibility. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops joked that losing three impact players is a good place to stop.

Sanchez likely has the option to make it four.

Sanchez had a career-high 35 unassisted tackles this season and 3.5 sacks. He posted a second straight season with six interceptions. Both times he led the Big 12.

His best contribution might have been his leadership this season, something that has helped the growing level of talent behind him.

“I’ve learned a lot from Zack,” cornerback Will Johnson said. “That’s who I am with off the field all the time anyway. There’s a lot of talk about football and techniques … I’m always picking his brain about why he did this and why he did that. Just picking up on things like making plays.”

“He’s been a big part of my life and in my growth and development here as a player,” said Thomas, who added that he got tired of Sanchez making all the big plays – forcing him to improve. “But at the same time, whatever he does is on him.”

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