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Big-play Braylon ready for senior season

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

Braylon Sanders is hoping to finish in style.

Sanders, a Callaway High graduate, is preparing for his senior season as a wide receiver on the Ole Miss football team, and he’ll be playing for new head coach Lane Kiffin.

“I can’t wait,” Sanders said. “With Lane coming in, and his offensive mindset, I feel like I’m a great fit for this offense. Coming into my last year, I just want to showcase what I can do.”

Sanders arrived at Ole Miss in 2017 after a successful prep career at Callaway High.

Sanders played in six games as a freshman, and he caught four passes for 65 yards with a touchdown.

Sanders became a significant part of the offense as a sophomore in 2018 when he had 16 receptions for 271 yards with a touchdown.

As a junior, Sanders hauled in 10 receptions for 192 yards with a career-long 57-yard catch against Mississippi State.

For his career, Sanders has 30 catches for 528 yards in 24 games, and he has averaged 22 yards per reception.

Sanders has enjoyed his time at Ole Miss, and he especially relishes the game-day atmosphere on campus, with thousands of fans converging on The Grove before the game.

“It’s one of the best campuses in the country,” Sanders said. “The Grove, that’s the best thing about it. Before the game, you’re walking through The Grove with all the fans. It’s a great feeling walking through there.”

Sanders always has a large family presence on game weekends, making those moments even meaningful.

“My family and friends, they like to travel,” Sanders said. “Most of them, they get there on Friday and stay the night so they can be there for The Grove on Saturday mornings. Just to be able to see them in that time of the morning, it’s great.”

Those same family members watched Sanders make one of the biggest plays in the history of Callaway’s football program during the 2016 season.

Callaway was facing a fourth-down situation with moments left in a state quarterfinal game against Screven County when Sanders caught a pass from Dylan Johnson and turned it into a 47-yard touchdown.

That play capped a 98-yard scoring drive and gave Callaway a 35-34 victory and a berth in the Class AA semifinals.

“That’s one of the best games of my life,” Sanders said. “Being in that atmosphere, it felt great, and then scoring the winning touchdown and having all the fans running around on the field, it was great.”

Sanders will have a reunion with some of his former Callaway teammates during a game against Auburn this fall.

Offensive lineman Keiondre Jones and running back Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby are both at Auburn, and they’re pushing to be in the starting lineup when a new season begins in September.

“Seeing everybody living out their dream of going to college and play the sport they love, it’s always great,” Sanders said. “And for me, being able to play against K.J. and Tank this year, that’s going to be a good one.”

When Sanders’ time as a college player is done, he’s hoping to earn the opportunity to play the game at the highest level in the NFL.

“That is one of my main goals, to hear my name called on draft night,” Sanders said. “Whether it’s day one or day two, just as long as somebody has faith to give me an opportunity, and I can go out there and show them my talents.”

For the moment, though, Sanders is committed to making the most of his senior season at Ole Miss, and his plan is to “just keep working hard, and go hard at practice, and keep the faith.”