This past weekend, the Washington State Cougars and head coach Mike Leach held a football camp for prospective recruits. In attendance was Eastside Catholic CB/WR Markell Sanders, and according to CF.C, Sanders has pledged his allegiance to the crimson and gray.
Like most high school kids, Sanders plays both offense and defense. While I wouldn't completely dismiss the notion of him lining up at WR for the Cougs, I believe Sanders is coming to Pullman as a defensive back. At 6'1 and 175 pounds, he has the frame to be a fairly large corner. He tackles well enough to be pushed inside to safety if need be. I think he's being brought in as a CB, but to be honest, I think his best position might actually be safety.
Sanders isn't ranked by Scout or ESPN, but Rivals gave him two stars. I think once he gets re-evaluated, he'll be a three star DB.
Sanders runs well enough to stick outside and be a good corner (or an excellent nickelback), but one of his biggest strengths is his ability to wrap up. I know that seems silly -- pointing out that a defensive player's best skill is his ability to tackle correctly -- but if you've watched our secondary at all the past few seasons, this is something that has absolutely killed
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I think he's fast enough to stick outside, but my preference would be to shift him inside to one of the two safety spots. Fast forward his video to the 1:33 mark and watch him absolutely destroy the ball carrier. I envision an Eric Framption type player making receivers pay for coming across the middle. The good news is he has played WR enough to where he understands how to catch the football. There's that old saying "corner's play defense because their hands aren't good enough to play wide receiver". I don't think we'll have a problem with Sanders in the hands department.
Sanders isn't slow, but speed isn't his main weapon. Speed can't be taught, but guys who don't possess blazing speed need to understand how to take proper angles. Sanders understands how to take proper angles. This is extremely promising, because most high school kids skate by on raw talent alone. The fact that Sanders understands the intricacies of the game (form tackling, taking proper angles, etc.) makes me think he'll see the field sooner than later.
From reading everything I've written so far, you'd think I didn't like Sanders as a CB. That's not true. I think Sanders projects better adding some weight and shifting inside, but if the plan is to keep him outside, I'm absolutely fine with that, too. Having a sure tackler at corner is never a bad thing, and Sanders shows the ability to bait the QB into throwing to a man who isn't really open before jumping the route.
Overall, I'm a big fan of Sanders and think he can develop into a very nice player for the Cougs. I'm always in favor of a redshirt (build muscle, learn the playbook, get accustomed to college, etc.) but if Sanders doesn't redshirt, I wouldn't be shocked. I think he's destined for Special Teams his freshman year, but that's not a knock. Sanders has the potential to contribute as a sophomore and start as an upper classman. Very nice pickup by Leach and Co.
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