Signing Day is one day closer and it’s time to learn more about the 2020 class. This next batch of players will be arriving to help the program continue their climb up the SEC ladder under Mark Stoops. Today we are staying in the state of Michigan and introducing you to another player that Steve Clinkscale convinced to continue his playing career in Lexington.
Earnest Sanders is a two-sport star from Mount Morris, Michigan who perhaps has the highest ceiling of any player in the 2020 haul. The 6-foot wideout should get to a playing weight around 200 pounds and has some athletic traits that you can just not coach.
Earnest Sanders is a consensus three-star prospect from all the recruiting services and the basketball star plays for a small high school that has an enrollment of under 400 students. Despite that, if you can play they will find you, and a few Power Five schools showed their interest in the high ceiling athlete over the summer.
After receiving a handful of MAC offers, Kentucky jumped into the party to become the wideout’s first Power Five offer and that ended up paying big dividends. Soon after that Sanders would get offers from Iowa State, Washington State, Indiana, Penn State, West Virginia, Purdue, Michigan State, and Minnesota in the next four months. The majority of those schools like to throw the football around.
Despite all of that action between January and April, Sanders went on an official visit to Lexington in June and committed shortly afterwards. It appeared that he completely shut down the recruiting process and will be signing on the dotted line next week. With all of the Michigan recruitments, it appears that Steve Clinkscale is able to get the job done with very little drama.
The Football Player
When you turn on the tape, there is no denying that Earnest Sanders is a superb athlete. It is very easy to tell that he is a very good basketball player thanks to a terrific leaping ability that gives him the capacity to make a ton of contested catches. Sanders has very average height for the position, but his athletic traits allow him to play much bigger than his size.
Sanders has the ability to run the deep post and create separation when going up against corners and safeties, but his run after catch prowess is something that should get you excited. He has wiggle to make defenders miss in space and some surprising acceleration that should allow him to turn 20-yards gains into 40-yard gains. Add that in with his physicality and he is not afraid to lower his shoulder and get some tough, extra yards through contact.
In high school, Beecher asked him to do a lot. He’s used as a wildcat quarterback, given the ball on reverses or fly sweeps, and gets involved in the passing game at the short, intermediate, and deep levels. This is a very intriguing prospect that will be bringing a lot of tools to Michael Smith’s recruiting room.
The forward pass is something that this offense has struggled with the entire Mark Stoops tenure and this past season we saw Kentucky develop into a hybrid option attack once they moved wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. to quarterback. Despite all that, Mark Stoops is on record stating that he does want to get the pass game involved in the offense and to do that you need some playmakers on the outside.
Earnest Sanders does some things that really catches your eye when you watch him. He’s excellent with the football in his hands and impacted the passing game at different levels in high school. His playmaking ability is something that is desperately needed for an offense that is looking for some difference makers on the outside. He’s rough around the edges when it comes to his route running, but there are some big tools in the bag for a guy who does not seem to be afraid of physicality.
Kentucky has struggled to find receivers who can do multiple things, but Sanders is a guy you could see playing different positions and even impacting in the return game. It is important to remember that he is raw, but the Michigan native has a super high ceiling who will have the opportunity to grow with the new quarterbacks that are joining the program at the same time.