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Sanders out front for revamped Butler defense

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, August 27, 2012, at 11:39 p.m.

— In trying to describe what it is like to play for the Butler Community College defense, one word comes to mind more than any other for sophomore linebacker Tommy Sanders.

“Chaos,” Sanders said. “Just chaos, man. Run, run, run and create that chaos tempo so that even if you make a mistake, you’re doing it at such a speed that it overtakes all that.”

And it’s creating that type of chaos that worked so well for the Grizzlies in 2011, when they went almost eight games without allowing a touchdown in one of the best team defensive performances in Jayhawk Conference history.

Butler ranked first in scoring defense (8.7 points per game), total defense (222.5 yards) and rush defense (60.3 yards).

“That group really dominated last year, but this is almost entirely new personnel,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “They’ve got a lot to prove.”

Sanders, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, proved himself in the Jayhawk last season. The Cordele, Ga., native was All-Jayhawk in 2011 after finishing wwith 69 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles.

He’s already received scholarship offers from Baylor, Kansas State, Mississippi State, South Florida, Texas A&M and Central Florida.

“Last year I wasn’t really that familiar with my surroundings and it took me some time to learn the system and get used to it,” Sanders said. “But now I feel like pepole can look to me as a leader. I can reach out to others and be that person who shows the new players how things are done.”

Sanders also said he’s not thinking about a specific school where he might land after he leaves Butler, but definitely knows what he’s looking for.

“I know I want to go to a spot where I’ve got an opportunity to play right away,” Sander said. “It would be nice to get back close to home but I’m not going to be picky about that. I know my coaches and my family will help me find the best system for me.”

He won’t have to go it completely alone this year, however. Fellow linebacker Rahmon Swain (6-2, 225 pounds) is also back after being named honorable mention All-Jayhawk last season. Swain has offers from Boise State, Kansas State, Memphis, Mississippi State, South Florida and Texas A&M.

Last week, the Butler defense wasn’t tested in a 72-12 win at Dodge City, and Torrell Saffold and Bishop Carroll product Max Martinez both returned interceptions for touchdowns.

Saturday’s game against No. 5 Blinn, the first at the $12 million BG Products Veteran Sports Complex, should give a better idea of where this year’s unit stacks up.

The Grizzlies are ranked No. 2 — the same spot they’ve finished the last two seasons — in the latest NJCAA poll.

“We don’t have as much size as we’ve had in the past on defense,” Morrell said. “But we’ve got some awfully fast guys on that side of the ball and hopefully that will make up for it somewhat.”

Reach Tony Adame at 316-268-6284 or tadame@wichitaeagle.com.

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