Butler CC running back Jasper Sanders commits to South Dakota


I just heard from Butler Community College running back Jasper Sanders, who informed me that he’s committed to play for the University of South Dakota. Sanders, a 1st team All-Jayhawk selection this season, led the Grizzlies with 938 yards rushing and 13 TDs in a backfield with two other rushers that went over 600 yards in Derrick Thomas (782) and Dreamius Smith (685).

Sanders, 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, went 22-2 in his two seasons at Butler and scored the game-winning touchdown in the Citizens Bank Bowl against Trinity Valley as the Grizzlies finished No. 2 in the final NJCAA poll. One unique thing about him is that he played quarterback at KC Piper in high school and has worked really hard at learning the tailback position the last two years … but still gives you the option of running the Wildcat succesfully if you’ve got him on your team, which Butler did at times. I know Maryland showed interest toward the end but did not need another juco running back.


Jasper Sanders grows up at Butler

The Wichita Eagle
PITTSBURG – Jasper Sanders stepped on the scale recently, and when the numbers started to light up past the 200-pound mark, pockets started to empty.
The Butler Community College sophomore running back, for some reason, couldn’t fathom his own success.
“I was sitting there watching him, laughing, basically telling him just to deal with it,” said Jasper’s father, Jeff. “That’s what a couple of years in the weight room will do to you. He kept telling me ‘it’s got to be 199,’ like there was no way he’d gotten that big.”
In two years with the Grizzlies, Sanders has blown up in more ways than one. Headed into Saturday’s Citizens Bank Bowl matchup against No. 10 Trinity Valley, Sanders had rushed for a team-leading 894 yards and 13 touchdowns.
A full qualifier out of Kansas City Piper, where he played quarterback, Sanders transformed himself in two years into what he thought he could be – a Division I running back. Several MIAA schools wanted Sanders out of high school, but when Division I offers didn’t come he decided to go to Butler, where his father won a national title as a defensive back in 1980 before playing for Northern Illinois and in the Canadian Football League.
“I wanted to give myself a shot at my dream,” Sanders said. “And Butler has turned me into a man.”
At 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds, Sanders clocked a 4.37-second 40-yard dash during preseason testing. He’s got offers from South Dakota and Tennessee-Martin on the table already, but more could be coming – it’s just the nature of the beast in junior colleges. In a lot of cases, a player won’t know his college destination until the weeks before the semester starts.
“It’s a lot of uncertainty, which is hard to deal with,” Sanders said. “I’m trying to be patient and also enjoy the success we’ve had … I’ve won 22 games at Butler and we’re going for another one, which I think is pretty impressive.”
The winning has been impressive – Butler went 11-1 last year and lost in the national title game. The Grizzlies won Jayhawk Conference and Region VI titles this season and are 10-1 and ranked No. 3 headed into the Citizens Bank Bowl.
What’s probably more impressive has been Sanders’ ability to become the featured runner in a backfield with two other potential Division I running backs in freshmen Derrick Thomas (745 yards, 6 touchdowns) and Dreamius Smith (653 yards, 9 touchdowns). Last month, Sanders was named All-Jayhawk Conference.
“Jasper has always worked extremely hard,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “He’s kind of shy, and it’s been neat to see him kind of grow up around us the last two years.”

Sanders has come into his own in more ways than one – his twitter account — @Jasper_Sanders – is a favorite among Jayhawk fans. He’s constantly updating about his music tastes – rapper Drake in particular – practice sessions, upcoming opponents and college life in general.
“I guess that’s kind of part of me coming out of my shell,” Sanders said. “It’s all in fun. I’m a pretty positive person and I just want to make life fun and have a good time at what I do. I’ve made a lot of good friends at Butler and, like I said, I’ve grown up. But now I’m ready for the next step.

Five thoughts on Butler-Hutch

I was in Hutchinson Saturday night for No. 4 Butler’s 28-10 win over No. 8 Hutchinson – No. 1 Blinn barely won, and No. 2 East Mississippi and No. 3 Arizona Western both won in blowouts, so it looks like the Grizzlies will stay put in the NJCAA polls.

Here’s some observations from what I saw:  


1. Elliott Alford’s shoulder

Not being able to throw downfield killed the Blue Dragons. Hutchinson QB Elliott Alford showed up Saturday morning with an injury to his right, throwing shoulder that was a surprise to his coaches and ended up a game-time decision after they mummified the shoulder. It was easy to tell Alford wasn’t right by his throwing motion … and the fact that he could do much more than float the ball past 20 yards downfield. Imagine if he’d been able to chuck it up to Cordarrelle Patterson — who Butler had no answer for — all night? Patterson had 76 yards receiving on 7 catches – mostly bubble screens and quick dumps — and his longest catch of the night was 40 yards, which came on a jump ball. Pro tip: Don’t show up the day of your team’s biggest game of the season with a mysterious injury. EA ended up turning the ball over, twice, close to Grizzlies’ goal line and cost his team any shot at winning. Also … how’d he hurt his shoulder?

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Butler keeps winning … and keeps dropping in the polls

You’re at Butler … so you’ve just got to scratch your head in amazement … and keep winning games, of course.

To start the season, the Grizzlies were ranked No. 3  in the NJCAA national poll. An overtime loss to No. 1 Navarro in the season opener then a rout of Fort Scott dropped them to No. 4.

Then they beat Highland 89-0 …. and dropped to No. 5. Then, they beat Air Force Prep 53-7 on Saturday …. and dropped to No. 7!!!

Keep in mind AFP smashed then-No. 3 Hutch 40-7 the week before. So what gives?

My answer is – it could be a big deal in the end. IF Butler goes undefeated,  keep this in mind: Blinn (#2) and Navarro still have to play each other, maybe twice, so one of them will drop below Butler with a loss. Arizona Western (#3) and Snow College (#6) also have to play each other, and whoever loses that game would drop below Butler. Iowa Western (#5) and Grand Rapids (#8) also play, so if Iowa Western could win and go undefeated, they would presumably be ahead of Butler, too. So theoretically, Butler could be on the outside looking in if any of those teams can win out. Not likely, but something to keep in mind as the Grizzlies’ keep marching through the season. I suppose they’re getting penalized for their one loss, but it’s still strange to see a team win by so much and drop.


PS. If you’re an Academy Award follower … this might be your best actor right here.