BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – He’s got acting chops but he’s the furthest thing from Hollywood. He’s got sprinter speed and NFL pedigree but he’s no prima donna. He’s C.J. Sanders out of Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy and he’s soon to emerge as one of the south’s top prospects.
C.J. Sanders earned 2nd place in the state in both the 100 and the 200 as a sophomore.
Sanders was recently named a four-star prospect by 247Sports and a member of the Top247 for the class of 2015. He’s got three offers to date, and that list should grow every time a college coach talks to his high school coach, Cody White.
“He’s probably one of the neatest kids I’ve ever coached,” White said. “He’s very humble, his parents have done a great job, step-dad, dad, mom, of making him what he is. He’s humble, he’s immensely talented, and extremely good student in the classroom. He’s almost perfect. But the good thing is he doesn’t buy into all the hype.”
If Sanders looks familiar in his pictures, it’s because you may have seen him as an actor. He played prominent roles in the movies Ray and First Sunday. He has also been seen on television in shows such as Cold Case, Grey’s Anatomy and Judging Amy. But for now, Sanders is all about football.
“I just want to focus on football for now,” he said. “I can get back into acting whenever I want to. God willing, if I go to the pros maybe I can do something but that takes a lot of time and football comes first so maybe I’ll get back into it someday.“
The hype is likely to grow steadily for Sanders. While his parents have already done a commendable job shaping Sanders as a person, they can take credit for some of his athletic ability as well. His mother played basketball for Michigan, his father Chris Sanders played wide receiver for Ohio State and the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and his step-father Corey Harris played football for Vanderbilt and in the NFL, most notably for the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV.
Sanders has track speed, earning second place in both the 100 (10.64 seconds) and the 200 (21.70 s) in the Tennessee Division II state meet as a sophomore. Along with that natural ability, Sanders has an invaluable resource of having two former NFL standouts in his life to work with him daily.
“It’s a blessing,” Sanders said of his father and step-father. “The good thing is that they both get a long. They’re friends and they actually train me at the same time…I play DB for my team and since I have to work on DB too, since my step-dad played DB, I work on DB with him and since my dad played wide receiver, I work on wide receiver with him. It’s just a blessing to have two father figures.”
Over the next two weeks, both father figures in Sanders’ life will see him visit their alma mater and attempt to earn an offer. First Sanders plans to camp at Vanderbilt on June 14 in an attempt to earn an offer from the Commodores.
“They come up a lot,” he said of Vanderbilt. “Coach (John) Donovan and all of them. I’m going to camp there next Friday. They’ve been wanting me to come up a while. I wanted to camp last year but I injured my back. I’m gonna come up this year and we’ll see how it goes. I’m looking forward to it.”
Even more exciting to Sanders is an upcoming visit to Ohio State, his father’s alma mater and the school he grew up a fan of.
“Me and Derek (Barnett) are going up to visit on the 18th (of June),” he said of Ohio State. “I’m excited about that because my dad went there and Coach (Tim) Hinton came up a couple times and he’s really interested in both me and Derek. I’m not going to jinx it or anything but if that offer came up, I’d be really excited.”
While Ohio State would surely earn strong consideration with an offer, Stanford has already put itself in a strong standing with Sanders, a player who’s looking for a well-rounded college experience.
“Stanford is really on me the most right now,” he said. “Coach (Mike) Sanford comes up all the time. I really want to visit Stanford but it just depends on how my family is doing and stuff going on so it all depends but we’ll see.”
As a sophomore, Sanders caught 24 passes for 403 yards and four touchdowns. He had eight touchdowns total while playing both sides of the ball and contributing in the return game. Sanders is currently ranked by 247Sports as the No. 27 wide receiver in the country.
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