USC identified Marion DE TJ Sanders (6-4 285) as an SEC level talent well before most anyone else, and now Will Muschamp and Tracy Rocker will have the chance to develop him. Sanders announced a commitment to the Gamecocks Saturday afternoon over NC State, West Virginia and Vanderbilt. Sanders also had offers from Coastal Carolina, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Tennessee, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, East Carolina and others.
Sanders got the chance to visit USC prior to the Covid-19 imposed dead period and from that, and follow up conversations with the coaches, he felt USC offered him his best opportunity.
“They kept it real and the conversations we’ve been having have not all have been about football,” Sanders said. “It feels like the family I never had, so I felt like it was the right spot for me.”
Sanders and Rocker have developed a tight relationship since Rocker arrived at USC from Tennessee and picked up Sander’s recruitment. He’s looking forward to learing the finer points of the position from one of the college game’s all-time greats.
“I feel like he can mold me into one of the best defensive linemen ever to go thru South Carolina” Sanders said. “I hope he can get me to the league. Me and him will be good together. He’s a fun, hard working coach and that’s the kind of coach I was looking for. He likes my potential. This (last season) was my first year (playing football). He would try to get the most out of me. He sees a lot of things I can improve on that he can help me with.
Sanders has come a long way in football circles. He had been primarily a basketball player, and a good one, until adding football to his resume for the first time last season. Muschamp didn’t have a lot of film to review but he saw SEC potential in Sanders and that’s why he offered.
“I feel like I deserved it,” Sanders said. “I worked hard. Every time I set foot on the field I give my all and it’s paying off now. He (Muschamp) likes that I have the combination of speed and power. When I watched him in (spring) practice, his tone and attitude towards stuff, he sounded like he wanted it, like he was playing.”
Sanders has a three-star rating in the 247Sports Composite, and is the 39th ranked defensive tackle in the country and the #5 prospect in South Carolina. He had 54 tackles last season. He gives the Gamecocks 14 commitments for the 2021 class.