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Sanders Productivity Stands Alone

by David Nestoff on Mar. 1, 2010
The June Jones’ offense has become synonymous with 1000-yard receivers. At Hawaii and more recently Southern Methodist University, Jones’ run and shoot approach has seen one receiver after another break the triple-digit barrier.

From 1999 to 2009, the last two years being at SMU, nine different receivers have combined for 15 seasons of 1000+ yards. Less than half (Ashley Lelie, Davone Bess and Chad Owens) have gone on to the NFL. The rest tidily finish up their careers and disappear into obscurity, discarded as the products of a system.

Emmanuel Sanders will not be one of them.

In 2008, when Jones took over as Head Coach at SMU, Sanders was halfway through a productive college career. In his two years before Jones, the 5-foot-11-inch receiver averaged 60 catches and 747 yards per season. He started his entire sophomore season and was poised to make a charge at the Mustangs’ record books.

Enter Jones. The passing went up, as did the production from the receiving corps. In his junior year, Sanders was second on the team in receiving yards, as he fell just 42 yards shy of his first 1000-yard campaign.
But by his senior season, what was once a dependable receiver became a record-breaking playmaker.

In 2009, Sanders’ 98 receptions ranked eighth in the nation. His 1339 yards ranked sixth. He was the main piece in Jones’ offense. In truth, the 2008 version of the Mustangs offense had the most balanced attack of any Jones’ offense since the coach took over the Hawaii job in 1999.
SMU passed only 55.5% of the time in 2009, down from 68.7% the year before. Lending Sanders hands more credibility was the fact he had double the receptions of any other SMU receiver. The next closest to his 98 receptions was 47, by Aldrick Robinson. The senior accounted for 34.3% of the team’s catches. No other of June Jones’ receivers had accounted for higher than 27.6%.

With his soft hands, focus, and ability to make the acrobatic catch, Sanders was the SMU offense and took hold of the Mustang record books in the process.

At the next level, Sanders has the playmaking ability to be a contributing part of an NFL offense. In addition, he can be an effective return man, writes Draftsite.com analyst Matthew Marino.

But like so many others, the receiver’s biggest hindrance will be his size going into the draft.

Though, he was big enough to carry a June Jones offense.