Indiana Coach Terry Hoeppner is looking for the sort of players in this year's recruiting class that can help lead IU football back to a bowl game, and Springfield, Ill., tight end Jeff Sanders is excited about lending a hand.
In fact, make that two hands. The 6'4", 235-pound tight end from Illinois prep powerhouse Sacred Heart Griffin is the 15th-ranked player from the state of Illinois according to Scout.com's Chris Pool, and it's his ability to catch the ball that's attracted the most attention from programs around the Midwest.
"My coach (Ken Leonard) has always told me that my strength is my hands," said Sanders. "He says I have an ability to catch the ball no matter where it is at."
Hoeppner's soon-to-be-unveiled offense appears to be a good fit for that sort of player. The offense often utilizes two tight ends, something that has made the IU program very appealing to tight ends such as Sanders.
"My coach told me they use the tight end and for a lot of things," said Sanders. "Coach (Bill) Lynch told me that I could play a little H-back, tight end, split out, whatever. I like football, and I like to do it all. I can't wait to see how they'll use me, and I'll do anything that they want me to do."
While Sanders wound up picking Indiana over Big Ten foes Illinois and Northwestern, he said it became clear quickly that IU was where he wanted to play at the next level. Indiana offered a scholarship in April, and Sanders made a trip to Bloomington for the spring game to watch the team play and to take a look around campus. Later in the spring, Sanders said he called IU Assistant Head Coach Bill Lynch to get an update on things, and said it became obvious that Bloomington was where he wanted to spend his next four years.
"(Coach Lynch and I) started talking, and he said some things that just made it really clear to me that I really wanted to go to Indiana," said Sanders, who added that he plans to major in business. "It just made it feel like home that much more."
With the decision out of the way, Sanders says he's excited not only about focusing on his senior season – Sacred Heart Griffin was 10-1 a year ago and among the state's best – but also about getting ready for what he expects to be a very rewarding career at IU. That's because he's convinced that the new IU staff will get things headed in the right direction.
"From talking to the coaches, they told me wehat they did over at Miami (Ohio), and the direction that they could be headed (at IU)," said Sanders. "It's amazing to me that I'll be able to be a part of something that is going somewhere – I can't wait to see where we are going to go."
Future Hoosier Jeff Sanders has his sights set on accomplishing something that's never been done at…