Randy Sanders (briefly) on Schaeffer

Working a long shot, we picked up the phone this morning and called one Randy Sanders, who was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee when Rebel signee Brent Schaeffer started the first three games for the Vols his true freshman year. Sanders was reluctant to say much, but he did give us a little insight on the future Rebel signal-caller. Read about it inside.

Former Tennessee Offensive Coordinator Randy Sanders, now employed at the University of Kentucky as the Wildcats' quarterbacks coach, didn't want to delve into a full-blown interview about his former pupil at UT, QB Brent Schaeffer, but he was cordial enough to give us a few quotes when we called him this morning and tried to pick his brain about working with the electric quarterback who will be under center for the Rebels in 2006.

"For obvious reasons, I don't think it's my place to talk too much about a player at another institution," said Sanders, "but I will give you some general statements since I did coach him at UT."

Sanders talked briefly about the perception of Brent as a football player.

"There was always a feeling about Brent that he was a great athlete who was playing the quarterback position," Sanders noted. "But I think people are just blinded by his exceptional athleticism and speed.

"The thing you will find about Brent as you get to see him more and more is that he is a very good quarterback who happens to also be very, very athletic. Brent is a bright kid who knows how to play the position. His speed and athleticism sometimes overshadow that he is a true quarterback."

As proof of that, Sanders named Schaeffer the starting QB for Tennessee to open up the 2004 season. Brent was the first true frosh QB to ever start an opening game in Vols' history.

Schaeffer, battling for the position with another true frosh - Eric Ainge, got the early nod and responded with 18-37 passing for 302 yards and two TDs in three games. He also ran for two more scores and established himself as a running threat on the major college level.

"What he did in that time frame was remarkable. He was a quick study of our offense and he played the position well," Sanders said. "Eric also made great strides and the two were splitting time when Brent sustained a major injury. Up until the injury, he was doing an excellent job at QB for us.

"That's not as easy as some might think. It is very hard for an upper classman to live up to that type of hype, much less a true freshman. In no way would I ever minimize his accomplishments."

Sanders was also impressed with Schaeffer as a "kid."

"Brent is a good kid, a quality young man. Ole Miss fans will like him a lot," Sanders added. "Brent will be an exciting player on the field and will be a fan favorite off the field."

At that point in the conversation, we took a stab at getting some more specifics out of Sanders, but he understandably declined.

"Let me just say this - Ole Miss fans should be excited they have Brent Schaeffer on their team," he added. "He's got it all. You'll see soon enough."

It's rare when a player comes to a major university from junior college with built-in Division I experience. Brent Schaeffer is one of those rarities.

Randy Sanders, who coached him at UT, thinks that will better prepare him for what lies ahead in Brent's immediate future.

"He'll be able to handle the pressure and responsibility. He's not only been in this situation before of having to take a crash course while handling the pressure, he's now two years older and wiser," Sanders closed. "I look for him to do very well."

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