I had the pleasure of speaking with former Mountaineer and current CFL standout Jock Sanders in my first WVUPros Q&A session of the year. We talked about his transition to the Canadian game, his role with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, other former Mountaineers, and what he learned from the late great Coach Bill Stewart. Enjoy!
Lance Frazier (LF): Jock, I want you to be yourself and don’t hold anything back. This is another opportunity to show people who you really are. Cool?
Jock Sanders (JS): Cool (Chuckles)
LF: Alright first question for you, after making the transition form WVU to the CFL, what has been similar or different from WVU?
JS: Well the fans and the game day atmosphere has been similar. People really get into football here. They seem to enjoy it and know what’s going on. As far as football, I’m just trying to make plays for the team.
LF: You and Noel Devine are 1 and 2 in the league in return yardage, is it time for you to see more burn on offense? Have they mentioned their plans for you at this point?
JS: The success on special teams have been due to my teammates giving me room and an opportunity to make a play. On offense, the coaching staff has put put in certain little things for me, but we haven’t used them because we haven’t had to. I just play it by ear as far as my role in the offense goes. I know my chance will come, but right now special teams are my time to shine and thats when I put in work!
LF: Yep, for sure! Now let me ask you about Coach Stew, who was instrumental as my special teams coach when I was at WVU, and was your head coach. Is there anyone on the Riders staff that reminds you of Stew? Also what was your relationship like with Coach Stewart?
JS: I think B. Myles (Baron Myles), the DB coach, as far as helping me with the game. He was a great special teams player over his career. He played the game and had great success in the CFL. My relationship with coach Stew… he was a great man! God bless his soul. He was a guy of great character! It was never always just about football with him. You could talk about your problems and personal life with him. He would always be there to listen to you.
LF: Of course that type of relationship, and I know this helped me, makes you a great player on the field but even a better man off it, correct?
JS: Yeah, you look at things differently. You don’t just look at the football aspect, you look at the big picture. He helped me grow from my sophomore year to my senior year. He helped me you know to be the guy I am today.
LF: You know West Virginia has put out phenomenal return men over the last decade. Guys like Adam Jones, Darius Reynaud, when I was there Antonio Brown, and Tavon Austin, who’s making the the leap to the NFL this year. Where do you think you and Noel Devine rank amongst those guys?
JS: Well, I can speak for myself, but I’m sure Noel feels the same way, but I feel we’re up there and didn’t really get the opportunity right out of college because of the lockout and a lot of other things. We are taking advantage of our opportunities right now. And hopefully that chance will come back and we’ll get a shot at the NFL. As of now, I’m focused on this year and continuing to help Saskatchewan be successful!
LF: Continuing the topic of success in Saskatchewan, you guys look like the bullies of the league so far by dominating in all three phases of the game. How do you feel you’ve been able to contribute a your team and how do you think your teammates have responded to your efforts?
JS: In the CFL, special teams and creating good field position plays a huge role in winning and losing. I’m just trying to help my teammates and give the offense good field position. We have a really good offense and defense and good players in every position. As a team, we try not to worry about what other teams are doing as long as we do the right thing on the field.
LF: Alright man, here’s your opportunity to say whatever want to all your fans in Mountaineer Nation that still supports you.
JS: I love that state and that city! There’s no place like home, and I consider that place my second home. As far as the fan support and everything, it’s awesome. To still see even after you don’t play there Is special! Once a Mountaineer always a Mountaineer!