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WR C.J. Saunders (Official Thread)

Discussion in 'Buckeye Football' started by MaxBuck, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. RB07OSU

    RB07OSU #7 aka Vick the human joystick Staff Member BP Recruiting Team

    Just awesome, congrats to CJ. From walk on to captain, doesn't get much better than that.
  2. brodybuck21

    brodybuck21 THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY Staff Member Fantasy Baseball Champ

    Dan Hope on August 20, 2019 at 10:55 am @dan_hope
    Email this ArticleShare on RedditShare on TwitterShare on Facebook1.2k
    C.J. Saunders has come a long way since he first joined the Ohio State football team.

    He began his career as a walk-on cornerback, but never saw playing time in a game on defense. After switching to wide receiver in 2017, Saunders started to make a bit of a name for himself, catching 17 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown – albeit mostly in the second half of blowout games – in his first season on offense.

    Saunders earned a scholarship in the spring of 2018, and spent some time in games with the Buckeyes’ first-team offense in four-receiver packages last season. He ended up playing fewer snaps than he did the prior season and caught only 10 passes for 73 yards, but he was a regular on special teams and returned eight punts for 50 yards as well as two kickoffs for 24 yards.

    All of that was already enough to make Saunders’ Ohio State career more noteworthy than that of the typical walk-on. On Monday, though, Saunders received the most substantial recognition of his Ohio State career yet, when he was named as one of the Buckeyes’ seven team captains – as selected from votes from their fellow players – for the 2019 season.

    Saunders knows how hard he has worked to get to this point, and he’s grateful that his fellow Buckeyes recognized that in selecting him as one of their official representatives.

    “It’s a huge honor,” Saunders said. “I’m extremely thankful. I’m not gonna hold it with any high standing that I’m better than anybody else ... I’m just extremely humbled to be voted by my teammates and that they have seen me in that light that they can rely on me to be there for them day in and day out.”

    When Saunders first joined the Buckeyes, he “really just wanted to be a part of a team again,” he said Monday. As his career has progressed, though – especially since he moved to receiver – Saunders has increasingly gained belief that he could not only contribute on the field at Ohio State, but become a team leader.

    After seeing the example former Ohio State wide receivers Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon set for the Buckeyes as captains last year, Saunders made it a goal entering his senior season to become a captain himself.

    While it’s certainly not common for a player to go from walk-on to captain at Ohio State, it’s not unprecedented. Linebacker Joe Burger was a captain for the Buckeyes in 2016 after beginning his career as a walk-on, and that showed Saunders that he too could earn the respect of his teammates and coaches and emerge as a leader if he put in the effort.

    “It doesn’t always matter about how many stars you had or where you’re coming out of high school. It’s all about the respect you earn once you get here,” Saunders said. “Once you get to a place like Ohio State, everybody’s good. So it doesn’t matter if you came from nothing or came from everything, you got to prove it every day. And I’m thankful that I was raised to be able to go to work every day and treat people with respect, and I think that’s just a testament to my family and the program itself.”

    C.J. Saunders has earned the respect of his teammates through the hard work he has put in since he arrived at Ohio State.
    Unlike the other six captains, who have all already been starters for the Buckeyes, Saunders has only seen occasional playing time – and that might not change this year. He could be fellow captain K.J. Hill’s backup at slot receiver, but Jaelen Gill is also still competing with Saunders for the second spot in the H-back rotation.

    Being a star player isn’t a prerequisite to being a team leader, though, and Ohio State coach Ryan Day is glad his players recognized that in naming Saunders as a captain.

    “You can tell that these guys respect hard work. They respect and really give a lot of credit to the way he's gone about his work every day, the way he handles himself, his character,” Day said. “Because C.J. hasn't played a whole bunch around here. But what matters is how he works in the weight room every day, the way he practices, the way he handles himself off the field, in the classroom and that says a lot about our team, that they voted him a captain.”

    Saunders’ rise to becoming a captain can’t be described as expected, considering that he wasn’t even recruited to play football out of high school, but it’s not a total surprise to those who have known him for years. Fellow captain Tuf Borland said he could see Saunders’ work ethic from the time he arrived at Ohio State.

    “I remember winter 2016, came in together, guy came in, did everything you asked of him, everything the right way,” Borland said Monday. “Great guy, the team loves him, so just to see the way things have gone for him and to see how the story unfolds, it’s awesome.”

    Mark Crabtree, Saunders’ coach at Dublin Coffman High School, was among those who always believed Saunders could succeed at Ohio State despite his career’s humble beginnings.

    “He’s not your typical walk-on, that’s for sure,” Crabtree told Eleven Warriors in an interview this summer. “And what he was able to do with the opportunity is really mind-boggling, but yet not surprising to me, because of what I knew he was all about. His character, his integrity and all that kind of thing are second to none ... I knew that if given the opportunity to grow and compete in the weight room and make himself a bigger and better athlete, I knew he would have an opportunity if they gave him a shot.”

    Hill said he voted for his fellow wide receiver to be a captain, describing Saunders as someone who “represents this university very well,” and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline has also consistently praised Saunders’ work ethic and ability to lead by example.

    “C.J. Saunders does a phenomenal job,” Hartline said this spring. “He is a guy that I use as an example a lot. Whether it be taking tests in our room, whether it be overall effort in our room, he does a great job. It’s really hard for me to find a bad clip on film. It’s really hard for me to find a lack of effort.”


    Now that Saunders has been selected as a captain, he’ll be expected to continue setting that example and being a player who his teammates can trust and look up to. Regardless of what his role in the wide receiver rotation ends up being, he will be a player who teammates turn to for guidance both on the field and in the locker room.

    As he enters his final season as a Buckeye, Saunders is glad to have that responsibility on his plate.

    “Parris, Terry, Johnnie, I got to go learn from them and see what it’s all about to have that impact and be what a captain’s all about,” Saunders said. “They just set an expectation, and they showed how to do it, the right way to do it. And now it’s my turn. Our seniors in the room. It’s not just me. There’s K.J. and Ben (Victor), Austin (Mack), it’s our turn to lead the younger guys and lead the room.”
    charlohiottean and RB07OSU like this.
  3. brodybuck21

    brodybuck21 THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY Staff Member Fantasy Baseball Champ

  4. brodybuck21

    brodybuck21 THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY Staff Member Fantasy Baseball Champ

    Kurelic: Inside Saunders’ walk-on to captain rise; Miller great
    ByBILL KURELIC Aug 19, 5:06 PM

    1) Many years ago, I was a teacher and head basketball coach at then Dublin High School. As I retired from coaching, but stayed in teaching at Dublin, in came in a young and very talented teacher and head baseball coach, Tim Saunders, who I got to know before leaving the teaching/coaching profession and becoming a recruiting analyst a few years later. Saunders is the father of Buckeye wide receiver C.J. Saunders. Today C.J., a former walk-on, was named one of the Buckeyes’ captains for the 2019 season.

    I returned to Dublin Coffman High School a number of years ago to watch the Canton McKinley vs Dublin Coffman game, Tim was working on the Canton McKinley sideline that night. I was there to see McKinley athlete and Ohio State commitment Eric Glover-Williams. Then Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs was also on the McKinley sideline that night watching and filming Glover-Williams.

    I had known about C.J., but had not seen him in action. That night I went home very well aware of C.J. I later wrote that while I was impressed with Glover-Williams, the best player on the field that night was C.J. Saunders.

    I move forward to a couple years ago. I again went to Dublin Coffman High School, this time to see Jackson Carman as Fairfield was playing at Coffman in an early season game. Tim was again on the visiting team sideline. I chatted with him and he told me about C.J. walking on at Ohio State. He also introduced me to C.J. who was also on the visiting team sideline that night.

    So, what is the C.J. Saunders story – the story of the kid that had so impressed me the night he played against Canton McKinley?

    C.J. was a first team All-OCC and Division l All Central District selection in football, basketball and baseball his senior year. That rarely happens. In basketball, he was a guard and in baseball a centerfielder. C.J. wanted to go Division l, but only received Division ll basketball scholarship offers from Ashland, Tiffin and Indiana Tech. Those didn’t appeal to him so he went to Ohio State to be a student.

    Coffman head football coach Mark Crabtee and Luke Fickell had a connection and without that connection C.J. would not be on the Ohio State football team. He was however, set to be a preferred walk-on for the Ohio State baseball team. Then because of the connection, C.J. met with Fickell and became a preferred football walk-on and joined the team during the winter after Christmas. He had to call the Ohio State baseball coach and let him know of his decision.

    When C.J. joined the football team it was mostly about being in the weight room. C.J. loves being in the weight room so that was just fine with him.

    C.J. was initially a defensive back and loved working for then Buckeye cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs. He came up with an interception in practice – an interception that was so good it made Twitter – as Urban Meyer wondered just who this guy C.J. Saunders was. Tim at the time was out from teaching and coaching at Coffman because of a fluke broken brain vessel, but C.J.’s interception and the Twitter response made Tim’s day and was perhaps therapeutic.

    Right before spring practice that year C.J. was moved to wide receiver. He was on the scout team and was making some catches against the starting defensive backs that were of course all highly recruited and scholarship players. Meyer talked to C.J. and asked him how he kept getting open. C.J. told Meyer he had a wide receivers coach at Coffman, Brent Ullery, who at one-time was a walk-on at Ohio State and then became the head coach at Centerville High School. C.J. told Meyer that Ullery had taught him how to get open at Coffman High School. Meyer mentioned to C.J. talking to the other wide receivers and also told C.J., “You will play for us some day.” C.J. played in the spring game that year as a wide receiver.

    C.J. made the travel squad for the Indiana game the following year and caught 6 passes for 102 yards including a 28-yard touchdown against UNLV. Meyer later put C.J. on scholarship.

    In high school C.J. was a 3-year varsity starter in baseball and basketball, but did not even play high school football until his junior year. One of the reasons he went out for football at that time was because he wanted to spend more time in the weight room which he could do on the football team. When C.J. graduated from Coffman he was not a multi-star guy in the football rankings, and had exactly zero football scholarship offers.

    As has been shown many times over, the guys with all the stars in high school don’t always turn out to be the best players in college. And certainly they don’t often turn out to be a player who goes from being a walk-on to captain.

    Ryan Day has said C.J. will play H-back and on special teams this season for the Buckeyes, and be a “great leader.”

    What a great story C.J has written - from walk-on to Ohio State captain!
  5. TS10HTW

    TS10HTW Senior

    I believe that this man has earned a thread title update...O Captain! My Captain! Or something.

    So much talent at H and much. Couple that with three Senior captains leaving the room and now competition for playing time is wide open. This guy keeps his head down and works his tail off and is named Captain of the team after being a walk-on defensive back.

    Rudy couldn’t carry this kids jock.
    zbuck likes this.
  6. ScriptOhio

    ScriptOhio Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.


    Y'all have likely missed seeing CJ Saunders this season, and we've got some good news and some bad news on that front.

    The bad news is, you won't be seeing your favorite walk-on turned scholarship player turned captain on the field this season. But the good news: you might next season.

    From Austin Ward of Lettermen Row:

    Multiple sources confirmed to Lettermen Row that Saunders won’t be able to play this season, which became more clear when the Dublin Coffman product hobbled into the Horseshoe on crutches on Saturday. Sources with direct knowledge indicated that an appeal for a medical redshirt has been in the works, but there has been no decision at this point about whether Saunders would return for another shot to make the impact he and the Buckeyes had been working so hard for over the years.

    I think Buckeyes will be just fine on the field regardless of Saunders' return, but with eight of Ohio State's 11 receivers expected to be first or second-year players next season, having a veteran presence like Saunders in the locker room would be clutch as hell.

    Entire article:
    MSURacerDT55 and brodybuck21 like this.
  7. scarletngray

    scarletngray Gold Pants

    Really hope he gets the redshirt. His experience and leadership would be a welcomed commodity in the receiver room as well as on the field next year.
    bukIpower and brodybuck21 like this.
  8. ScriptOhio

    ScriptOhio Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.


    FUTURE SIX YEAR SENIORS. In a world where it seems like most players arrive in Columbus expecting to be in The League after just three seasons, it's looking like Ohio State might have itself a pair of sixth-year seniors next year.

    Read into those comments however you would like.

    To me, it sounds to me like Hilliard fully expects to be eligible and healthy next year, but there may be some hangup in at least one of those areas for Saunders.

    I don't know how it's all going to shake out, but having a sixth-year player on both sides of the ball would sure be one hell of a way to add some veteran leadership to a team that's looking like it'll be pretty young next year.

    I mean, damn. Six years is long enough to see two different players come and go.

    Entire article:
    brodybuck21 likes this.
  9. brodybuck21

    brodybuck21 THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY Staff Member Fantasy Baseball Champ

  10. ScriptOhio

    ScriptOhio Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.



    C.J. Saunders sat in black sweatpants with gray crutches in the Ohio State team locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium, having spectated as his team limped to a 21-7 deficit after 30 minutes of football.

    An injury had the redshirt senior wide receiver sidelined, as it had the entire season, keeping the captain from assisting his team as it fell behind Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game Saturday.

    He stood aside watching no more.

    Saunders swept up his crutches, sprung atop a chair and spoke from his heart, telling the team it had a decision to make. Either walk out defeated, he said in the speech, lose, and return to the locker room in tears asking “What could have been?” Or come out firing in the second half, win the game, and have all its aspirations still in sight.

    “He’s one of those guys that hadn’t played a game all year, but he’s the heart and soul of this team,” redshirt sophomore center Josh Myers said. “The type of person he is is the reason why we won this game.”

    Entering Ohio State as a walk-on, Saunders earned a scholarship prior to the 2017 season and responded by catching 17 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown in that campaign, in addition to special teams contributions.

    Saunders reeled in 10 passes for 73 yards the following season, but held enough of a leadership role that he was voted a captain by his teammates for 2019.

    The Ohio native suffered an undisclosed season-ending knee injury prior to the start of his final year. But he said he stuck around to help lead his team.

    “Something that’s kept me locked in is just, my brothers,” Saunders said. “Being out there every day, I can’t give up on them just because I’m not out catching touchdowns or passes. I’ve still gotta give them everything I can.”

    There’s no better situation to be locked in for than a conference title game.

    In the Ohio State locker room, as the third quarter neared its opening, Saunders said the time was right to help his team the best he could.

    “I had something on my heart that I wanted to share with the team, and just felt it was the right time to say what I needed to say, and hopefully impact my team in a positive way,” Saunders said.

    The determining factor, the choice Ohio State had to make, was belief, Saunders delineated through his talk. Scarlet and gray confetti was inevitable if the Buckeyes knew they would come back.

    “I think my teammates know how much I care about them, how much I love them, that I’d do anything for them,” Saunders said. “Through that, through a lot of hard work — even though I haven’t played this year I’ve been with these guys for four years and workouts, games, last season, tough times, we’ve been through it all.”

    Myers said Saunders’ story is one that’s inspired the team, on the field or not.

    That’s what made his speech so impactful, the lineman said. He’s someone the team looks at and says “you can’t let that guy down.”

    “He came here, he didn’t have a scholarship, he earned one,” Myers said. “He ended up being a captain. Everything he does — he can’t lose, no matter what he does in life. He’ll never lose. And that’s the type of people we have in this locker room.”

    Ohio State rode into a 34-21 sunset victory, capturing its third-straight Big Ten title after winning the second half 27-0.

    Senior safety Jordan Fuller, a fellow team captain who finished with four tackles Saturday, said Saunders’ commitment to the team is what gave his words and leadership credibility.

    “To be that engaged and hyping us up for the second half — a lot of guys can be hurt be like, ‘I can’t even talk to the team, because I’m not a part of it.’ He’s totally a part of it,” Fuller said. “That’s why he’s a captain of our team.”

    Ohio State has all but secured a playoff berth and awaits to find out whether it is seeded No. 1 or No. 2 Sunday at noon.

    With leaders like Saunders both on and off the field, the Buckeyes need no crutches to stand tall.

    “I’m just proud of my team, and to be a part of this thing,” Saunders said. “We truly have something special in this locker room.”

    Entire article:
    RB07OSU, Bestbuck36, Cratylus and 3 others like this.
  11. ScriptOhio

    ScriptOhio Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.

  12. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

  13. ScriptOhio

    ScriptOhio Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.


    Receiver C.J. Saunders is still seeking a sixth year of eligibility, and Day said they are still "waiting to see" if that extra year will be granted by the NCAA.

    While admitting that "these things have their way of working themselves out," Day also says getting down to the 85-man limit can also be "a tricky thing."

    And having been over the number is one reason the Buckeyes ended up backing away from recruitments of players like running back Jahmyr Gibbs (who, as a side note, ended up signing with Georgia Tech after all the hoopla and speculation about him potentially ending up at Florida, LSU or elsewhere).

    "We had to walk away from a couple of guys here in February because I didn't want to be put in that situation," Day said. "And so we'll see how these things work out in the spring, and obviously with the transfer portal we never want to lose anybody, but you also have to forecast that out a little bit so you're not short and there's also medicals and different things that way. So, again they have their way of working themselves out and we'll just try to forecast the best we can."

    With Saunders, it gets trickier because of his specific situation. He's a former walk-on who rose to become a captain, and his intangibles (veteran leadership, emotional support being chief among them) are where his main assets lie. His halftime speech during the Big Ten Championship game may have been his peak as a Buckeye, but with the blue-chip recruits coming in at receiver (who are objectively more talented at the position than Saunders), there's a balance that has to be struck.

    "I think one of the keys right now to our success in moving forward a year into this is the balance of young talented recruits who come in here, who want to play early, and then having the maturity of guys who are fourth- and fifth-year seniors who have been in the program, who bring a certain level of leadership and maturity that the team needs to go win the whole thing," Day said. "And I think balancing that is part of the job as the head coach and figuring that out. And C.J.'s maturity, his leadership, the talk he gave at the Big Ten Championship game at halftime was unbelievable. Guys like Justin Hilliard getting up in front of the group already and mat drills and just talking about a bunch of stuff moving forward.

    "We need that leadership and maturity because we do recruit a lot of young talented guys. But you don't want to (have) an immature group when you go play those bowl games in January. That's the balance that – we're trying to figure out that chemistry."

    There are a lot of scenarios that could still play out here in regards to Saunders, potential transfers or potential injuries. As Day said, these things typically work out in the end, but it's worth keeping a keen eye on until they do.

    Entire article:
  14. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

  15. ScriptOhio

    ScriptOhio Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.

    brodybuck21 likes this.

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