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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: CJ Sanders, WR/RS, SMU

CJ Sanders the speedy WR/RS from SMU sat down with Jonathan Joyce of NFL Draft Diamonds

Student-Athlete Profile:

  • CJ Sanders
  • SMU
  • WR
  • 5’9”
  • 183 LBS.
  • Hometown: Granada Hills, CA
  • Twitter: @TheLifeofCeej

2019 Accolades & Statistics:

  • 2019 American Athletic Conference Football Second Team (Return-Specialist).
  • KO Returns:29
  • KO Return Yards: 833
  • Y/KOR: 28.72
  • TDs: 2
via @SMU_Football (Twitter)

What have you taken away the most from Coach Dykes, Coach Martin and the rest of the SMU coaching staff?

I learned that it’s like a family at SMU, they not only cared about me as an athlete but as a person as well. They were some of my favorite coaches that I’ve had.

When football is over, what do you aspire to do in the professional world?

I want to do some more acting. As I got older, it was tough to try out for roles and also play football. I am also creating my own Sports & Entertainment Company to help others with the knowledge I have gained along the way.

Your father, Chris, played football at Ohio State and then a number of years for the Titans/Oilers franchise in the NFL. What do you remember about his playing career and what kind of advice has he given you to become a better player?

My best memories were in the locker room and looking up to guys like Steve McNair and Jevon Kearse. Just being around guys like that made me want to work hard so I could be in their shoes one day. The best advice my dad gave me was to always be me, that’ll always be enough. Throughout my life, I made sure to stay true to myself.

via @American_FB (Twitter)

What separates you from other players as a returner?

I feel like one of my strengths on the field is my vision, and it helps me set up my blockers to make big plays.

You played a young Ray Charles in the 2004 film Ray. What was that experience like for you at such a young age? Do you plan on furthering your acting career after football?

It was so much fun to be apart of a classic film like that. That was my first role ever and I was really just learning on the fly. But it taught me how to be calm in a big setting, and I let that carry over in football. I definitely want to do some more acting after football is over.

You also have acting credits on TV shows like Cold Case, Grey’s Anatomy and Judging Amy. What was it like being on set for those shows? What actors or actresses made you feel most welcome?

One of my favorite shows that I did was Grey’s Anatomy, at the time I had no clue how big the show was. It’s funny because nowadays people come up to me more for that than Ray. Grey’s was also cool because Isaiah Washington and Sandra Oh were so down to earth. I did most of my scenes with them.

Who is the toughest player you’ve competed against during your collegiate career?

Adoree Jackson was fun to watch. I played against him when I was at Notre Dame, that dude is electric.

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

“The Life of Ceej: The Journey of Resiliency.”

Give me your Mount Rushmore of all-time return specialists, past and present. What made you choose these four players?

Devin Hester, Dante Hall, Deion Sanders, Josh Cribbs. I chose these guys because they are all truly special with the ball in their hands and are guys I looked up to.

Is there a current or former NFL player you emulate your game after?

I’ve always been a fan of Golden Tate because he’s special with the ball in his hands after the catch. Dante Hall was another one I’ve always looked up to as well

Let’s take a trip back to the first day of your freshman year at Notre Dame High School. What advice would you give yourself then, knowing what you know now?

Trust the process and trust God’s plan. Everything that I’ve been through is preparing me for where I’m about to go.

If I’m in Dallas on a Saturday night during the Fall, where is the one place I have to eat at?

TJ’s Cajun Seafood & Wings. Straight fire.

You’re in front of all 32 NFL General Managers and have 15 words or less to give them your pitch on why CJ Sanders will be an asset to their organization for years to come. What do you tell them?

I’m a difference-maker, on and off the field. I strive to make people better.

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