By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
It is always good to see our area student athletes find success, and that usually starts with a scholarship.
For Gadsden City High School football star Laynce Sanders, that was just the case.
Sanders, a 6’1, 215 pound linebacker and defensive end, recently signed a football scholarship with Division II Shorter University in Rome, Georgia.
“I will be a defensive player,” Sanders said. “I will play a sort of ‘hybrid’ position between outside linebacker and defensive end.”
Sanders said the coaching staff at Shorter did not recruit him until late in the 2011 season.
“Coach [Joe] Billingsley sent them a highlight tape of me of my last two seasons at Gadsden City and I started getting phone calls. Coach [Phil] Jones said I would have a good chance to start as a freshman.”
Sanders was a defensive menace for the Titans. He accumulated 53 tackles in 2011, in which Gadsden City made the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.
Sanders recalled his senior season with the Titans, during which he played through a serious injury.
“I hurt my shoulder last year, but still finished 11 sacks. It slowed me down a lot, but I kept working hard and got it healed.”
Sanders plans to major in Physical Therapy at Shorter.
“I enjoy working with people and I want to help them,” Sanders said. “I had a great experience with my own rehabilitation that I wanted to pursue it as a career.”
Sanders said his shoulder is in great shape and he is working out hard preparing for fall workouts.
“I have gotten my benchpress up to 320 pounds,” the broad-shouldered player said. “I haven’t been squatting as much as I should have, but I’m up to 425 on that.”
Sanders said because of his height he relies on his speed to make plays. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.
“I pride myself on my pass rushing abilities,” he said. “I have enough quickness and initial strength to get around bigger blockers. I got plenty of experience the past two summers in football camps in Birmingham and Oklahoma. I was fortunate enough to earn MVP at both of those camps.”
Sanders’ scholarship to Shorter is valued at over $104,000, and will cover all books, tuition, food and board. Sanders was also earned a $400 scholarship, which was presented to him by the Gadsden Line Dancers for winning an essay contest.
Sanders is proud of his accomplishments on the gridiron, but understands he could never have made it this far on his own.
“There are so many people who have worked hard to get me this far,” Sanders said. “I have to thank my coaches working so hard with me over the years and giving me much needed guidance. My family backs me 100 percent in everything I do. I thank the Lord for everything that’s been given to me.”
Sanders is anxious to return to gridiron.
“I feel great. I learned from every game and every play. Used to be laughed at for thinking about getting a scholarship. This will be a great opportunity for me to play at the next level. I’m just glad I got the opportunity to play football. I am very blessed to be able to continue my playing career.”