Sanders sets the recruiting record straight, talks Florida State verbal


Zebrie Sanders

The recruiting trail for Clayton Northmont offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders was a long, winding road that included some detours and eventually ended at Florida State earlier this week.

We caught up with Sanders for more on his recruiting situation and eventual commitment to the Seminoles.

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The recruiting trail for Clayton Northmont offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders was a long, winding road that included some detours and eventually ended at Florida State earlier this week.

Sanders, who is rated as the No. 11 prospect in the class of 2008 by Ohio High magazine and the No. 18 offensive tackle in the country by, was courted by some of the top college football programs in the country entertaining scholarships from Georgia, Florida, LSU and Florida State to name a few.

Thought to be a Florida lean all along, Sanders (6-6, 275) decided to take all of his official visits before issuing a verbal to the Gators.

When he decided to pull the trigger and commit to Florida, he contacted the other schools that had been recruiting him to tell them he was going to be a Gator. But when he contacted Florida to give the Gators his verbal, he was shocked to learn there was no longer a scholarship available for him.

“I called all the coaches and told them I was no longer interested just so I could commit (to Florida),” he recounted. “Then when I finally contacted Florida they told me they had no more spots, so I felt pretty bad. I had to call all the coaches back to tell them sorry for the misunderstanding and they could still recruit me.”

Rumors then began to rapidly spread about Sanders and his scholarship situations. Everything from legal problems to refusal to take online classes riddled the internet message boards.

“People on the internet said Florida and Georgia both dropped their scholarships. Georgia still had a scholarship waiting for me,” he said.

Ultimately, Sanders believes the Florida situation was simply a miscommunication issue and the culpability lies with both parties.

“I don’t think it was my fault and I don’t consider it Florida’s fault,” Sanders said. “I had told (the Florida coaches) since October I wanted to come there and I even told (head coach Urban Meyer) to save me a scholarship. Every time they asked where I was leaning, I told them ‘Florida, Florida, Florida’ through the whole recruiting process. But I guess in the last couple of weeks they had gotten antsy because I hadn’t really verbally committed and they took (my scholarship) away.

“I guess I waited too long but that is why the NCAA gives us that long of a time span to make sure we chose the correct college for us to go to and that’s why they gave us five official visits. But I don’t consider it my fault and I don’t put all the blame on Florida,” Sanders said.

So, with his recruiting opened up again, Sanders began considering his other options.

Enter Florida State.

“When I went down there I just fell in love with it,” Sanders said about his January 18 official visit with the Seminoles. “The facilities and the stadium are really cool and the academics are good. I just felt comfortable and I felt like that was the place where I wanted to go. It just seemed like a perfect fit for me.”

Sanders mentioned his affinity for the Florida State coaching staff as well, particularly head coach Bobby Bowden, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and offensive line coach Rick Trickett.

“I really like Florida State, mainly because of coach Trickett and the type of coach he is and how much better he is going to make me,” he said.

His previous trip to Florida was for the ESPN All-American game in Orlando earlier this month and was still planning on playing for the Gators at the time.

“I was pretty strapped in with Florida when I was down there (for the All-American game),” he said. “I talked to them and told them I was going to head back down to the University and spend some more time down there. So, I was pretty much a Florida verbal but hadn’t really committed.”

But Sanders enjoyed the experience of the ESPN All-American game and thought it was a good indication of the talent he would be going up against at the next level – no matter where he landed.

“I liked it a lot. I got a different style of coaching so I learned to pass block and set up a little differently. I liked playing with other good linemen and going against other good talent. I enjoyed it a lot,” he said.

Now that Sanders has his recruiting behind him, he is looking forward to getting ready for Florida State and competing for a starting spot.

“I want to get a lot more aggressive and playing for someone like coach Trickett – he is an aggressive coach – I think that is going to happen,” he said. “I definitely need to get a lot stronger and just be in shape. I want to stay lean but be strong at the same time and compete for a starting spot when I get down there.”

But first, Sanders learned this week he will participate in the prestigious Big 33 game June 14 and will line up against Pennsylvania’s best football talent.

He was notified by Huber Heights Wayne head coach Jay Minton about his selection.

“I was actually pretty excited. I am looking forward to just going again and playing a lot of the players from the Pittsburgh Central Catholic team we lost to this year. It will be a good chance to get a little more revenge before I head off to college, so I am looking forward to going up against them,” he said.

Sanders, along with the rest of the incoming freshman class, will report to Florida State June 25.

Zebrie Sanders 2007 Season Highlights



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