Sanders seeks his own identity

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2013 - 8:43 am

STANFORD – Barry Sanders isn't chasing his famous father, the Pro Football Hall of Fame running back with the same name.

But that didn't stop some fans from noticing the resemblance last weekend during Stanford's public practice.

Sanders, a redshirt freshman running back for the Cardinal, found space on the outside, conjuring images of his father, the 1988 Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma State.

The younger Sanders doesn't run from the comparisons because he knows they are coming.

"If people say I look like him, that is a great compliment," said Sanders, who likes to go by Barry J. (His middle name is James.)

"It rolls off his back," Cardinal coach David Shaw said of the comparisons. "He wants to be his own guy. He wants to wear his own number. He's as mature and comfortable as anybody who has been with a relative of that fame."

Sanders, whose father appeared at some practices last week, has never made a big deal about sharing his father's name – and game. They look alike, and those who have met both say they sound alike.

"I don't remember not being comfortable with it," Sanders said.

Sanders has watched his father's highlight films countless times and tries to model his style after him.

"He was one of the best," Sanders said. "Why not try to replicate the best?"

But Sanders has said his father's exploits can't be duplicated. The son also has said his father played a minimal role in coaching him in football.

"He's more concerned about me being a student," Sanders said. "He understands at a certain point the football stuff comes natural. You just have to play to get better."

Sanders is one of five backs Shaw expects to use this season to replace Stepfan Taylor, Stanford's all-time leading rusher. The pecking order favors veterans Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson. Ricky Seale, Remound Wright and Sanders are the others.

Shaw appreciates how the son of a star has asked for nothing.

"He wants to learn and grow," the coach said. "He knows he's not at the finish line yet. So many guys with his talent and background say, 'I need to be a starter.' "

Oregon State – Sean Mannion will start at quarterback Saturday against Eastern Washington, coach Mike Riley said.

Mannion and Cody Vaz started at quarterback last season for the Beavers, and both shared first-team repetitions for the past several weeks.

Oklahoma – Offensive lineman Jacob Reed was suspended indefinitely from the team after he was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend after breaking into her apartment early Sunday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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