South Aiken’s Sanders ready to make impact in first healthy season with Gamecocks
AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) - Former T-Bred standout Jesse Sanders is ready to get back on the field after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.
Sanders walked-on at USC after four years at South Aiken. In his senior season with the T-Breds, he caught 22 passes for over 300 yards and received AAAA All-State honors. Sanders got moved over to fullback under Will Muschamp, but he’s back in his natural position of tight end with Shane Beamer now at the helm.
Sanders and Gamecock running back Marshawn Lloyd both tore their ACLs on the same day last year. Sanders said the two went through the entire rehab process together, keeping each other motivated through a process that can often be deflating.
After being cleared on June 1, Sanders is working his way back to full strength.
“It’s a lot of route running, especially with tearing your ACL,” Sanders said. “There’s a lot of cutting that goes into running a route and even blocking. Making sure I’m sharpening up those routes. Making sure I can get back into the game and not miss a beat has been the big thing for me.”
Sanders said it’s been great getting to know and working under new head coach Shane Beamer. Beamer was brought on as Muschamp’s replacement in the offseason. Living in Aiken, Sanders grew up cheering for the Gamecocks just an hour down the road. Now that he’s on the team, his family is able to come to the games since they’re so close. Sanders said he gets that same family vibe from Beamer.
“He’s a big family guy. He stands by his core values. He’s really strong,” Sanders said. “He came in with a lot of us, had his meetings. He cares about us as players and you can definitely see that. He’s doing a good job with recruiting and a good job with building a family and building a dynasty here at South Carolina.”
Sanders also has his eyes on ending the losing streak to Clemson. The Gamecocks have lost six straight to their in-state rivals. Sanders said that’s changing this year.
“We’re gonna win,” he said with a smile.
The Gamecocks start their preseason in about a month.
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