The college football landscape has changed over the years and the importance of a return specialist has gained new meaning. For years, most teams would just place the fastest guy or the most elusive guy back deep on kick or punt returns. Usually that meant using one of your starters, but with an 85-man scholarship limit, that is frowned upon in today's game.
As Devin Hester has proved with the Chicago Bears a great return man can help propel a team to the next level. The Pittsburgh Panthers went searching for a big time play maker to be their return man and they struck gold with Gateway's Cameron Saddler.
No player in the WPIAL has been more dangerous returning punts and kicks over the past two seasons then the 5-foot-7, 170-pound, Monroeville native.
Don't call Saddler a return man, because as he has proved he is far more than just that. He has also been one of the state's best running backs and a lock down cover corner.
It should be interesting this fall to see if Saddler plays himself into an immediate role as the Panthers go to guy.
Senior Stat Line: Saddler had 1,700 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns
Saddler has nine career blocked kicks. He earned first team Class AAAA Associated Press All-State honors. He was named first team All-Conference by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22" team. Saddler was also named to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Terrific 25" team.
Scout.com Evaluation:Saddler plays bigger than his size. He can match-up against wide receivers several inches taller than he is and his physical ability and competitiveness will make-up for his lack of ideal size. Saddler has very fluid hips, he has outstanding closing speed. Despite, his size he is a very solid open field tackler. Where Saddler shows his value is in the return game. He is a game breaker as a return man.
At running back, he has amazing vision. He sees things that most players don't see. He will use the entire field. He shows no fear and will run like a 200-pound back. He shows great elusiveness, especially between the tackles. He always moves forward fighting for extra yardage. Saddler is a very solid receiver and will likely see time there in college.
Saddler: "I have great awareness and am very smart on the field. I know what's going on around me all the time. I love football. There's nothing else I'd rather be doing.