February 3, 2010

Sanders ends suspense, announces decision

Vincent Sanders wowed Ole Miss at a summer camp almost two years ago and immediately became a high priority for the Rebels' 2011 recruiting efforts.

On Wednesday, after a late flirtation with Florida State that raised the collective anxiety level in Oxford, Sanders committed to and signed with Ole Miss.

Sanders, a four-star wide receiver from Macon (Noxubee County), Miss., picked the Rebels over Florida State, Mississippi State, West Virginia and others.

"Me and the Ole Miss staff had a real close relationship from like my ninth-grade year," Sanders said during his announcement, which was televised live by WCBI-TV in Columbus, Miss. "They were the first school to offer me, so I think they were the first to see something special in me. We never had any kind of ups and downs or anything like that. They were straight-up forward with me, and I just can see myself being up there in Oxford."

With Shay Hodge and Dexter McCluster out of eligibility and preparing for April's NFL draft, the Rebels are in desperate need of immediate impact players at wide receiver. Ole Miss signed Delray Beach, Fla., wide receiver Quadarias Mireles earlier Wednesday, and Mireles is expected to compete immediately in the slot and perhaps in the "Wild Rebel" package.

The 6-foot-3, 182-pound Sanders, meanwhile, is expected to help at one of the outside receiver spots. The Rebels return Markeith Summers, Lionel Breaux, Patrick Patterson, Jesse Grandy, Ja-Mes Logan, Andrew Harris and Melvin Harris, but only Summers is a proven commodity going into the 2010 season.

"They've got a pretty good situation for me," Sanders said.

Sanders said Jevan Snead's decision to leave a year early for the NFL didn't impact his decision. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt called Sanders when Snead left and talked to him again when the Rebels hired Dave Rader to serve as co-offensive coordinator with Mike Markuson following Kent Austin's departure to take the head coaching post at Cornell.

"I've been up to their practices and I've seen the quarterbacks they have stepping in," Sanders said. "They're pretty good quarterbacks. Coach Nutt and Coach (Derrick) Nix came to my house and Coach Nutt told me they're pretty much going to do the same stuff but the new offensive coordinator is going to put more passing game into their offense. That sounds great to me."

Sanders and Patterson were teammates at Noxubee County. The two are close friends, but Sanders said Wednesday he and Patterson never talked recruiting, adding that Patterson's presence in Oxford was not a factor in Sanders' decision.

"I'm not going up there because of Pat Patterson," Sanders said. "I'm going up there because that's where I see myself playing for the next three, four or five years."

Sanders is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 2 prospect in Mississippi and as the No. 15 wide receiver prospect and No. 120 prospect in the country.

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