STILLWATER -- During the COVID-19 pandemic gas prices have been falling and Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders has taken advantage of it. He spent plenty of time back at home with his family and taking care of academics, but he's been on the road. A good quarterback makes sure he keeps up that chemistry with his receivers.
"I threw with Tylan (Wallace) a little bit in Stillwater and I threw with (Dillon) Stoner and Landon Wolf in Tulsa and it's been good building that connection again and getting around the guys," Sanders said from Owasso where he is staying with teammate and linebacker Carson Kropp. "I'm just ready to get back on the field."
That will happen rather quickly in fact, as Sanders, who told the folks from Sirius-XM Big 12 Today in an interview where we took all these quotes that he is not nervous about getting back together with his Oklahoma State teammates during the coronavirus.
Stillwater is a fairly safe place and hasn't had a positive test for the COVID-19 in almost a month and does not have a single case in the hospital. The players will be tested and Sanders, coming off that thumb injury in the Kansas game last season and a subsequent surgery, will be among the first to report along with other Cowboys that have been rehabbing injuries as they will arrive on June 1.
Sanders said in that game (Kansas) that he threw the long touchdown pass early in the game to Dillon Stoner, after the thumb had been hurt, and it was really sore on that throw. When he went back in, he said he threw an ugly, off target pass and came off the field and told head coach Mike Gundy he was done.
Sanders was cleared for spring practice, which lasted three practices and he was limited in work. During the time away from campus since March and spring break because of the virus he has worked hard using the workouts sent by Rob Glass and the strength staff and using partners he picks up by traveling around.
"He's been sending all of us workout sheets and I've been working personally with a linebacker. His name is Carson Kropp and we've been doing pretty good," Sanders said answering the workout question. "He's a linebacker, so he works out pretty heavy and I've been lifting heavy too. It's kind of fun to do that."
Kropp is in Owasso and full disclosure, I think Sanders has another friend, a girlfriend in Owasso. He has spent the appropriate time putting the work in with goals in mind.
"I really focused on keeping my speed, but gaining weight and getting stronger," Sanders elaborated. "I want to keep my speed, if not get faster, and get stronger at the same time. I want to make sure I still have the touch in my hand even though I had the surgery and I felt good after that. Just trying to keep touch on the ball make sure I'm familiar with the ball."
There is also the convenience of working with Dillon Stoner and Landon Wolf in the Tulsa area. The two seniors will be important to the offense and as veterans they can help Sanders some.
"I've been driving up to Tulsa and working to build that timing back again," Sanders added. "I wouldn't say we've lost so much just not having spring ball. I've been trying to get my time with the guys. That is still there, that connection is still there."
Like he said, Sanders has also worked some with Tylan Wallace, who will report June 1 as well and is wanting the medical staff to test his knee and clear him for the summer work and the start of fall camp. Wallace at receiver and running back Chuba Hubbard are the returning weapons on offense that outsiders dwell on the most. Sanders is quick to point out the offense is a lot more than that duo.
"I don't want to focus on just those two because we've got a stacked team," Sanders said. "I have a lot of weapons around me. We've got Braydon Johnson that really showed out in the bowl game. Landon Wolf showed out all season. Dillon Stoner is a key factor for us too. It showed when Tylan (Wallace) got hurt that we have more players and more people that we can get the ball too and make plays. This year with having those two (Chuba Hubbard and Wallace) back and all of the others, it's like I have a weapon here, a weapon here, and a weapon wherever I need to go. It's all about trusting that were on a great level and with weapons all around us, it is going to be hard to stop us."
In fact, Sanders is perhaps an unsung weapon. He is dedicated to staying in the pocket more this season and getting the throws made rather than using his insane athletic ability to rip off big runs. The Draft Network website believes he may be one of the hidden quarterback prospects in college this season as our Marshall Levenson elaborated on in this story.
My favorite part of the interview was when Sanders was asked about his true freshman season and sitting behind former walk-on and then starting quarterback Taylor Cornelius. It was clear cut that Cornelius was the best option at quarterback and had a very strong season. Spencer watched and learned and he made it clear one of the things he learned was how to deal with fans cruelty.
"It really matured me a lot and I saw all of the hate that he (Cornelius) got from people, but they didn't see all of the good that he did," Sanders said of sitting behind Cornelius. "He kept up with OU 47-to-48, he beat Texas, and he beat West Virginia. It really kind of +!$$@& me off. He's a damned good quarterback and I'm not afraid to say it. I learned from him with his poise and he never let anything bother him, including the hate. I learned from that and the fact that he knew where to go with the ball. He blocked out the hate and gave 100 percent everyday. It helped me by asking if I was ready for that and it helped me mature."
Sanders had his high points last season as he was clearly one of the top quarterbacks in the Big 12, but he had tough games at Texas Tech and in the second half against Baylor, He was quick to take the blame and just as quick to swear it wouldn't happen again. I think Sanders learned as much, if not more, playing last season as sitting in 2018.
The lessons combined should serve him well for 2020. He is really talented. He has plenty of talent around him, a veteran and talented offensive line too. Spencer Sanders just needs to have a season and if he and all of us do have that football season then Oklahoma State fans should have plenty to be happy about.