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January 7, 2012

Army Bowl: Sanders leads West defense

MORE ARMY: What we learned | Live blog | Full coverage

SAN ANTONIO - The West offense put up solid numbers in the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl with a 24-12 victory over the East and the game organizers named quarterback Cyler Miles and wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham co-Most Valuable Players of the contest.

The defense was even more stout, though, holding the East squad to under 200 total yards and forcing four turnovers. The secondary in particular provided headaches to the opposing quarterbacks all afternoon.

With two interceptions in the contest, including an impressive grab along the sideline in the fourth quarter, Kendall Sanders of Athens, Texas was the most valuable for the West squad.

"I think I played real well," Sanders said after the game. "I just had fun out there. I wasn't really worried about all that other stuff. I just went out there and played. That's what helped me to play well today."

"I didn't expect this at all. I thought I would just be out there, covering receivers and running around. I didn't think I would have two picks."

Sanders is quick to admit that it was a group effort. Fellow cornerback Ishmael Adams also had an interception and safety Shaq Thompson led the team in tackles with five, including two for losses.

"I just came out here and played hard and did what I was supposed to do," he said. "I would say I was at the right spot at the right time. It wasn't just me though. I didn't shut it down by myself. I had help from Shaq and the other corners and we all just played together well."

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Sanders, the nation's No. 64 overall prospect and No. 4 athlete, plays a lot of wide receiver as well but was selected for the game to play cornerback. He feels his work on offense helps him succeed on the other side of the ball as well.

"I think my speed and my size are my strengths," he said. "Being able to play receiver I can kind of tell the routes and stuff. I have knowledge of the receiver since I play receiver too."

Sanders recently switched his commitment from Oklahoma State to Texas. He has long maintained that he plans to play offense in college. However, with his big performance on national television he is starting to change his tune just a bit.

"A little bit," Sanders said, smiling, as to if he was now open to playing on defense in Austin. "Wherever they want to put me, that's where I'm going to go."

When pushed a bit more, he admitted he was actually quite receptive to the move should the Longhorn coaches want him to make it.

"I'll put it like this," he said, "If (Texas defensive back coach Duane) Akina wants to put me on defense, I'm going to defense. If he doesn't, I'm going to stick with wide receiver because I love receiver too."



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