Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is less than two weeks away from the biggest game of his life. Sanders is a big-time NFL star, but his roots come back to the small, high school football town of Bellville, Texas.
Sanders, a former two-star prospect, attended Bellville High School and became a small-time star. He electrified fans on offense as a speedy wide out and on defense as a ball hawking defensive back.
Sanders’ high school coach, Huey Chancellor, said that he talked to Emmanuel at an early age about his talent on the football field.
“I would say when Emmanuel was young, I pulled him in his freshman year and we had a serious talk,” Chancellor said. “I talked to him about his ability and what I thought he could do. At that time, I wasn’t thinking about the NFL (for Emmanuel), I was thinking about getting his school paid for.”
Sanders took Chancellor’s advice and became a solid first team all-district player on both sides of the ball. Sanders put on an offensive show at running back and wide receiver reeling off 913 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns on 80 touches.
He showed off his defensive ability as well by recording 49 tackles and three interceptions. However, Sanders would be recruited as wide receiver by multiple Texas Div. I programs including Houston, Baylor, TCU and SMU.
The Bellville star would ultimately pick the SMU Mustangs. His impact became immediate earning freshman All-American honors after a catching 46 passes for 605 yards and nine touchdowns.
Sanders would go on to break all three major SMU career receiving records. He snagged a record 285 passes for 3,791 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Coach Chancellor said that he was proud of not only the player Sanders had become but, a man as well.
“He established a lot of receiving records,” Chancellor said. “I would see him on an occasional Saturday game, and I started to hear he may play at the next level. For me, It’s something that made me very proud. And, it made me excited to say that we helped a young man grow up and develop, and turn into an outstanding athlete and outstanding man.”
Sanders was taken in the 3rd round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft. The SMU product made it to the Super Bowl in his rookie season. Unfortunately for Sanders, the Steelers would fall 31-25 to the Green Bay Packers. He would go on to play four seasons with the Steelers becoming a starter in his final year compiling 2,030 yards and 11 touchdowns in his Steeler-stint.
Denver added the budding wide out in free agency. As a Bronco, he became a pro bowl wide receiver recording back-to-back 1,000-yard plus seasons. Now, he finds himself in the Super Bowl.
Coach Chancellor said it’s a joy to watch a former athlete succeed like Emmanuel has.
“For me, It’s nice to watch the Super Bowl and enjoy that,” Chancellor said. “And then to have one of your ex-athletes in it is special. You don’t get that very often.”
Credit to SMU Mustangs Football and Pro Football Reference for the Stats:
SMU Mustangs Football
Pro Football Reference