Player Profile Series: Stephon Sanders

Our player profile series continues with a look at OLB Stephon Sanders!

Stephon Sanders

Position: Outside Linebacker

Size: 6-3, 250

High School: Mesquite Horn

Classification: Junior

2012 Review: After starting five games for the Mustangs in 2011, Sanders was expected blossom in his expanded role in 2012. He started 12 out of 13 games and made a couple of key plays. But Sanders was quiet for the most part in his sophomore campaign, notching just 48 total tackles and one sack, which game in the Hawaii Bowl.

He did, however, play solid pass defense and broke up five passes over the course of the season. Sanders returned his only interception of the season 36 yards for a touchdown.

2012 Grade: C+

2013 Outlook: After the graduation of Ja'Gared Davis, look for Sanders to take on an even larger role for the Mustang defense this season. He has the talent to bounce back from somewhat of down year and play even better than he did as a freshman.

It is clear that the SMU coaching staff sees Sander as a potential leader of the team. The coaches awarded Sanders with the number 23, a distinction given to a deserving student-athlete on the football team in honor of Jerry LeVias, the first African-American scholarship recipient in the old Southwest Conference.

Now that Sanders is an upperclassman it is time for him to live up to this distinction and take on a leadership role for the Mustangs.

On the field, Sanders needs to use the momentum of his Hawaii Bowl performance and get after the quarterback in 2013. As a freshman, Sanders recorded three sacks but in a larger role as a sophomore only knocked down the quarterback once. He needs to reverse this trend to be a complete defensive weapon for the Mustangs.

With the departures of Davis and Taylor Reed (two of the Mustangs' three top tacklers), SMU needs Sanders to fill this void. He will have a lot more opportunities at the ball carrier this next year and needs to take advantage.

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