Mancuso: Sanders a Playmaker

In what might be West Virginia's finest ‘slash' recruit yet under sixth-year coach Rich Rodriguez, St. Petersburg Catholic head coach Dan Mancuso has an unparalleled weapon in terms of range.

Sanders has returned kickoffs and punts, played quarterback, running back and slot receiver and manned the corner and safety spots defensively for the Florida school. And while that might lead to the maxim that Sanders can't be truly great at anything if he dabbles in everything, Mancuso rebuts that with the one aspect that can't be coached.

"He has speed. You can't really keep up with him," Mancuso said. "He is so fast he will burn you in many ways. He's all over for us."

Sanders made a commitment despite not seeing the campus of West Virginia University due to a flight problem during his recruiting. He hasn't, in fact, ever been in the state, but has seen pictures. His easy, old-shoe feel of a relationship, as well as that of Mancuso's, with WVU wide receivers coach Butch Jones made the verbal commitment to West Virginia unproblematic for either party.

"We wanted him to get it over with," Mancuso said. "We felt very comfortable with the coaches (at West Virginia) and that made it easy."

Sanders ran for more than 1,000 yards as a junior. He was one of the top running backs at the Scout.com All-American Combine in Jacksonville back in March and was tabbed an all-area, all-county and all-state selection as a junior. His 5-8 height is the lone aspect that puts the 185-pounder second in the history of athletes Mancuso has coached, behind Florida State wideout Chris Davis, a first-team selection by USA Today as a senior at St. Petersburg and the best prep athlete in the nation according to Parade Magazine. Davis has started all four years and led FSU in catches last year.

"Jock is second only because Chris Davis was taller," Mancuso said. "It is really close on everything else. He is an athletic kid who plays with his pads up. You put it in his hands and he will make a play, make it happen."

Sanders is expected to get an immediate chance to help the Mountaineers on special teams. He flashes 4.5 flat speed in the 40 (though he ran only a 4.62 at the Scout.com combine) and he'll jitterbug foes to gain positional advantage on the field. Hed has what one terms ‘game speed' meaning that it isn't truly his straight-ahead, pure sprinting speed that makes him special, but his ability to create gaps in the defense by forcing players to move with him, or run him down after a cut, where he gets an edge in the initial steps via vision and reacceleration.

He sees the defensive setup well, and has an innate ability to know and feel where to move. His best asset is the reacceleration, which is incredible, and his start-stop gearing and slipperiness is akin to one of the finest backs in the history of the game – though no relation to WVU's 13th verbal – according to Mancuso.

"He is a Barry Sanders, a stop-and-start guy like Barry," Mancuso said. "I see him doing everything at the next level."

Sanders projects to a slot wideout at West Virginia, which likes to put its tallest receivers on the edge, where they are out of the secondary traffic and can gain one-to-one match-ups with smaller corners. Sanders could be tried at running back as well, and his 4.28 shuttle speed and 7.29 three-cone drill time scream athlete. He has a 31-inch vertical and an 8-4 broad jump.


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