A Visit with Ole Miss’ 4-star commit Brycen Sanders and his dad, Coach Gary Sanders
“It seems to me that at 19 or 20, a young man is burning to be great at something. I was. You have a vision that’s beyond the neighborhood. You want to make a mark while you’re alive. You don’t know exactly your future, but you want to be great at it. And greatness is an important word.” – musician Art Garfunkel
OXFORD, Miss. — Although Ole Miss offensive lineman commit Brycen Sanders is not quite 19 or 20 years old, as Garfunkel describes above, there’s simply no doubt this young man has the burning desire to be something great, on and off the football field.
Some families’ DNA is just made to be a part of the greatness of the game, and the Sanders are no exception. They have indeed lived and breathed football.
Now, one of the nation’s most sought after interior offensive linemen will continue the Sanders legacy at the next level — just like his grandfather, Richard, who played on the 1970 Ole Miss team under Coach Johnny Vaught and his father, Gary, who played on the offensive line at Middle Tennessee State.
Last month, Sanders took to Twitter to announce he is committed to ‘Come to the ‘Sip.’
Thankful for all the opportunities and everyone who has gotten me to this point. 100% committed @OleMissFB , let’s go to work ‼️ @Lane_Kiffin @CoachThornton61 @WeisJr_M #hottytoddy pic.twitter.com/oKxmAOC457
— Brycen Sanders (@BrycenSanders1) June 13, 2022
Like we say in the Southeastern Conference, ‘It just means more,’ and Brycen’s commitment indeed will mean more for this Ole Miss offense in the future.
It’s also meaningful for Sanders. We asked him what ultimately made him choose to come to Oxford.
“The relationships I have with the coaches, and I think it’s the best place for me to succeed.“
Brycen Sanders on choosing Ole Miss
The 6-foot-6, 290-pound Sanders, currently ranked as a 4-star, is the No. 8 IOL in 2023 and the No. 4 overall player in Tennessee, according to 247Sports.
He’s also a phenomenal all-round athlete who throws the shot put, the discus, and also wrestles.
1st place in shotput today throwing 51 feet and 2nd place PR on discus at 143 feet. 20+ teams. @BrycenSanders1 pic.twitter.com/TUIWQIXUrf
— Gary Sanders (@BallCoach1) April 23, 2022
2022 Wrestling State Champions. #GBR @BrycenSanders1 💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/2EnZhWslEC
— Gary Sanders (@BallCoach1) February 6, 2022
Rebels’ head coach Lane Kiffin and offensive line and assistant coach Jake Thornton have found gold in Brycen, yet another top player who wants to play for the Rebs.
“Ole Miss is always going to have one of the best offenses in the country. They were my first offer and they’ve always talked to me since then, and I think Coach (Jake) Thornton is a really good o-line coach.”
Brycen Sanders on Ole Miss in March, 2022
Sanders committed to the Rebels over LSU, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
He also had offers from: Auburn, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Duke, East Carolina, Eastern Kentucky, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Miami (OH), Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Purdue, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee State, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Baylor and Wisconsin.
Fit In The Sip
We have broken down the talent of Brycen before but in case you need a refresher on just what a playmaker he is, let’s do a quick recap on some of the x-factors we see in him.
- Very athletic and could shine at numerous spots on the line at tackle, guard or center
- Solid footwork
- Great body quickness
- Good closer on assignments
- Elite football intelligence and instinct
- A multi-sport athlete who competes on the Red Raiders’ track and field team in the shot-put and discus.
In addition to speaking with Brycen, we also had the chance to catch up with his father, Gary Sanders, who also is the TE/OL coach at the Baylor School, to break down the commitment and what it means to the Sanders family.
A visit with Coach Gary Sanders, Brycen’s father
The Rebel Walk: From a coach’s perspective what does Brycen’s commitment mean for your program?
Coach Gary Sanders: I’m not the head coach (at Baylor School), so I don’t want to answer any questions about the program on his behalf. From my perspective as a coach, regardless if it’s your own son or not, it’s so rewarding to see one of your players have the opportunity to fulfill his dreams.
I’ve had the opportunity to coach high school since 2003, and the relationships you build over the years is something that will stick around forever. These are the moments that make all the hard work and sacrifice worth it.
Rebel Walk: You have had the chance to coach your son…what is one skill set he you know he has that can be an “x-factor” for the Ole Miss offense?
Coach Gary Sanders: Brycen comprehends the game so well from a coach’s viewpoint — specifically, the defense’s alignment up front. I guess that’s just the benefit of having a dad as his offensive line coach. I believe this is why he could be utilized as a center in college. I believe he will adjust well to new terminology and be able to learn quickly.
From a physical standpoint, he’s explosive, has excellent feet, and is able to move laterally extremely well. He’s very athletic.
However, the SEC West is the toughest division in football. Like most high school OL going to college, his body will need to adjust to the competition. The league is full of grown men.
Rebel Walk: From a dad’s perspective, what does it mean to you and your family to continue the Sanders legacy as an Ole Miss Rebel?
Coach Gary Sanders: My father is super proud of Brycen. Regardless of what school he chose, he would’ve been at every game. There was no pressure, whatsoever, on Brycen to go to Ole Miss.
This was Brycen’s choice, and Brycen fell in love with the school and the town of Oxford. My grandmother was born in Oxford and grew up there. It’s a special place to my father’s side of the family.
The final sentence in Garfunkel’s quote above is as follows: “And you dare not tell anybody how extreme and how burning are your visions, because you don’t want anybody to mess with them.”
We don’t have to worry about anybody messing with Brycen’s dreams because he’s already on his way to fulfilling them and will undoubtedly make his mark here in Oxford when he arrives!
Hotty Toddy, Brycen, and welcome home!
(Feature image graphic: Lee Ann Herring, The Rebel Walk)
Lee Ann is the Director of Recruiting for The Rebel Walk. She is a veteran SEC sports journalist and NFL content writer. She is also the Sr. Editor for MESPORTS digital. Herring-Olvedo is a Brown University graduate who loves good cigars, good games, and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order.