Sanders awarded the Jerry LeVias "23"

At the football awards banquet Saturday night, June Jones awarded rising sophomore linebacker Stephon Sanders with the righteous No. 23 jersey for this fall. The number honors Jerry LeVias, who was the first African-American scholarship player in the Southwest Conference.

Stephon Sanders has a new jersey number.

Every year, June Jones awards a deserving student-athlete with the No. 23 to honor Jerry LeVias for his contributions to the country, community, football and SMU, and this fall, Sanders will wear that number.

LeVias was the first African-American scholarship player in the Southwest Conference. He was a consensus All-American in 1968 and was chosen All-SWC in 1966, ‘67 and ‘68. He continued his football career at the next level, playing for the Houston Oilers and San Diego Chargers.

Chris Banjo has owned the "23" since 2009 and with his upcoming graduation, it was time to pass the torch to a worthy underclassmen.

Sanders, a rising sophomore, is expected to be one of the Mustangs' best defensemen next season and will likely start at outside linebacker.

Sanders was one of the most pleasant surprises to the coaching staff last season and his hard work earned him a starting job as a true freshman in the Mustangs' final four games of the year.

He recorded 26 tackles, 5.5 for loss and three sacks in 2011.

Defensive coordinator Tom Mason says Sanders has the potential to be a bigger, stronger and faster Ja'Gared Davis.

Sanders, who stands at 6-foot-3, 240ish, has been a guy that both Mason and Jones have raved about all spring, saying that there are big things to look forward to coming out of their new "23" this fall.

For more SMU coverage, follow Laken Litman on Twitter!

Pony Stampede Top Stories