June 26, 2014

Kansas athlete one to watch for 2016

Wichita (Kan.) Heights High School 2016 prospect Creighton Sanders swung by the University of Colorado last week and impressed the Buffs' coaching staff at camp. The 6-foot, 172-pound defensive back left Boulder high on CU as his recruiting process nears its junior season.

Sanders was a four-sport standout as a sophomore. He played safety for the Heights football team and split time between track and baseball in the spring.

Sanders qualified for the Kansas 5A track state championships in 110-meter hurdles. He hit .424 with 24 RBIs and 11 stolen bases for Heights' baseball team in the regular season. If that doesn't sound busy enough, Sanders is also on the swim team.

The Buffs -- and other college football programs -- like Sanders' abilities as a defensive back.

"At the beginning it was a little tough, coming into the new atmosphere, it was a new feel for me. I'm from low Kansas, so a lot more air down there. Overall, once I got used to the air, it went really well. I got a lot of reps in and some coaches talked to me after and they said they were really impressed with what I did and that I'll have to stay in touch. That is what the plan was, just get my name out there, get exposed. I thought I did that on the field, let my name be known," Sanders said of his camp at CU.

While he hopes to play on both sides of the ball as a junior, the Wichita product knows his football calling is likely in a defensive backfield.

"Safety or receiver. Honestly wherever the coach believes he needs me to play, I'll go ahead and play wherever the coach needs me. For preference it's either safety or receiver. I like having the ball in my hands and doing what I can to help my team score touchdowns. But I also like to hit people on the other side of the ball. Defense wins championships as some coaches say," Sanders said.

"My grandpa says it's better to give than to receive, I'm sure he wants me to be playing defense in college."

Sanders got an impromptu invite to Boulder as he was already in the state to attend a Football University event in Denver over the weekend. Numerous other schools are courting the 2016 prospect.

"Other schools, K-State, Arkansas, Louisville, Oregon and in late July I'm going down to LSU to their three-day camp. And also, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, OSU, colleges like that. Oregon has a little bit of interest, they came down in my last week of school. They came to see me and two other junior colleges. That's pretty crazy. Being a sophomore and Oregon coming to talk to you, it's unbelievable. Honestly I didn't know what to think about it," Sanders said.

Colorado's strength and conditioning coach left an impression on Sanders, who hopes to study a similar major.

"I was thinking about strength and conditioning, human science and body science. Try to help people overcome their weight or just help them feel they're confident in themselves and they can do whatever they put their mind to. Also psychology, help kids break out of their shells at their school, make their schools feel like a home to them. That's something I was coming from a background of," Sanders said, adding he volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club.

"While I was at the visit for the University of Colorado, they really impressed me with their strength and condition coach, he's truly amazing. Dave Forman, I believe. That's a respectable man. My gosh, he's a great coach. I was really impressed with him and I was impressed with Colorado's background of education first. They really enforce education first."

Colorado's pitch for 2016 and beyond includes updated football facilities.

"Yes they did and that's truly amazing. The indoor facility with the weight room right next to it …. That's going to be amazing when that turns out," Sanders said when asked if CU shared its plans for the future.

"They said 'if you come here and hopefully you do, you won't be stepping in any of these places.' They showed me all around their training facilities, their weights, their locker rooms and they said 'yeah, you're probably won't be in any of these facilities.' At least I got to see the old ones and the traditions."

Folsom Field also left an impression on Sanders, a noted fan of Ralphie.

"You've got the mountains right behind you while you play first off. Then the field's great. Man, just a great place," he said.

Sanders had the chance to meet with CU defensive backs coach Charles Clark on his tour on Thursday. The Buffs' head coach had good things to say to the Kansas recruit following Wednesday's camp.

"After the camp [Mike MacIntyre] came up and talked to me and said he was really impressed. He said he hopes I keep in contact and he was really impressed with the camp," Sanders said.

One of the best parts about camps for the young men who participate is getting to know other players from around country.

"I got to know some quarterbacks, some receivers and Zach Wilson from California, the other DB. Then Kevon Hall, the receiver from Memphis. He was an outstanding player," Sanders said.

"We were the first guys to go up on one-on-ones. I was playing up on him, got a little jab in there. We weren't able to be too physical on the line because we don't have pads on, we don't want anybody to get hurt out here. Gave him a little jab and then backed off and he ran a vert on me. Man, that kid is fast. He is fast … my gosh. He got a little bit away from me. I have long arms, so my arms were still on him, I swatted the ball down as soon as I saw it. It was a pretty good play, it was a good matchup. Then later on, he got me on an in-and-dig. Oh man, he got me good. That's football, it goes back and forth."

Overall, Sanders gave his visit with the Buffs a strong rating.

"It was a good experience. Just to get out here and see the other competition you're going up against and how the other players train," he said of CU's camp.


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