Sanders: 'I'm ready to get out there, man'

Keep up to date on Tennessee football recruiting with a subscription to Read about this Volunteer State product that sees orange in his future.

Having verbally committed to Tennessee way back on Aug. 6, 2011, before his junior season even started, Austin Sanders has been on campus in Knoxville an impressive number of times and finally got the opportunity to take his official visit this month.

"It wasn't too much different," he told InsideTennessee. "The coaches, there's definitely more excitement out of them. You can tell there's a want to win. You can tell they're excited to be there, and I'm excited."

Sanders was part of an extremely talented group of visitors the weekend of Jan. 18. Joining him were numerous committed players like Ryan Jenkins and Cameron Sutton, but also uncommitted targets like Under Armour All-American defensive end Carl Lawson and four-star defensive end Davin Bellamy.

"They said they loved it, but they love other schools too," Sanders said. "It's a process for them. Hopefully they come to Tennessee, but they still have a feel for other schools."

Looking to join Sanders along the offensive front in the 2013 signing class are Christian Academy of Knoxville's Brett Kendrick and Colerain (Ohio) High School's Dylan Wiesman. All three are in the process of getting to know first-year Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney.

"We're like best friends, like he's been my coach for years now," Sanders said. "He's something else. We talk every day. He likes to come down and visit me whenever he can. He's an awesome guy. It's like I've known him forever."

What position Sanders plays on the next level is still to be determined.

Assistant coach Don Mahoney has wasted no time getting to know the future of the Tennessee offensive line.
(Danny Parker/
"It don't matter they said — tackle, guard or center. They said that I'm athletic enough — I don't know if I believe them or not — that I could play tackle, guard or center," he said.

The Vols return four starters — Zach Fulton, Ja'Wuan James, Antonio Richardson and James Stone — but there is a vacant spot at left guard from the graduation of Dallas Thomas.

"I'm going to have to be excellent and just crisp on everything if I want to start as a freshman. I want to. There's a shot at guard, but you know who knows," Sanders said.

After wrapping up his senior year at Bradley Central (Tenn.) High School, the 6-foot-6, 305-pounder competed in the Toyota East-West All-Star Classic in Cookeville, Tenn., before boarding a plane for the first time to venture off to Carson, Calif., to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American game.

Now, he gets to enjoy the end of his high school days before the pad popping on The Hill heats up again this summer.

"Right now I just plan on lifting and enjoying the rest of my senior year and get my classes done, spend time with the rest of my family and my girlfriend," the Cleveland native said.

No one in the 2013 group has been pledged nearly as long as the Volunteer State product. However, the process is nearly complete and he's just months away from his dream of being a member of the Big Orange becoming a reality. He scoffed at the notion of being nervous going head-to-head with Southeastern Conference caliber defensive linemen.

"No, no, no. I'm ready to get out there, man. Going to the All-American game…it's not like I lacked confidence but that was a big confidence booster. Going up against an outside linebacker that's 6-1 and runs a 4.5 off the edge, I mean that gives you confidence if you shut him down," Sanders said.

"It was an awesome, awesome experience hanging out with all of those guys."

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

Twitter | Facebook | E-Mail

Inside Tennessee Top Stories