Spencer Sanders is not afraid of competition. That’s the message he conveyed several times in a phone call with 247Sports on Thursday fresh off the news that he’d transfer to Ole Miss for his final season of eligibility.
Sanders wants to join a suddenly crowded quarterback room in Oxford, which features 2022 starters Jason Dart and recent transfer Walker Howard, the no. 40 overall player in the country during the 2022 cycle. But Sanders, a first-team all-Big 12 selection in 2021, said he’s eager to embrace the battle ahead of him because he believes Ole Miss is the best fit for his final season of eligibility.
“I’m going to come in and work my tail off either way, whether the room is packed or not,” Sanders told 247Sports. “That’s just my mindset. I’ve always had a mindset of competing, driving, striving for better. I’ve never shied away from competition. I’m not going to start now.”
Sanders is certainly the most accomplished quarterback in Ole Miss’ new-look QB room. A four-year starter in Stillwater, he’s thrown for 9,553 yards and 67 touchdowns in his career while completing 61% of his passes. Turnovers have occasionally been an issue for Sanders – he’s thrown 40 career interceptions – but he’s also been wildly successful with a 30-11 record as a starting QB.
Dart was up and down in his first year as a starter, throwing for 2,974 yards and 20 touchdowns against 11 interceptions during an 8-5 campaign. The Rebels started the season 7-0 but finished 1-5 down the stretch. Sources have indicated Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin wanted to increase the level of competition in his quarterback room this offseason, which is a big reason the Rebels have added both Howard and Sanders.
Sanders said Kiffin promised him nothing upon his arrival in Oxford, but Sanders is eager to show he can be QB1 for the Rebels.
“I have a lot of self-confidence,” Sanders said. “I’m a big believer in myself. My money is on me every time. So, I wasn’t too worried about what the quarterback room looks like. I’ve got pretty good experience. I’ve been in the game for four years. I feel like I’ve got a little bit of an edge.”
Sanders joins an offense that ranks in the top 35 nationally in yards per play each of the last three years. That scheme, which recently sent Matt Corral to the NFL, was a point of intrigue for Sanders as he explored his options in the portal.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Sanders also received overtures from programs like Auburn and Wisconsin. But he felt his fit in Kiffin’s scheme, plus the opportunity to play in the SEC, which was too good to pass up.
“I like Lane Kiffin a lot,” Sanders said. “I like how he schemes his offense. I like how he runs his offense, how he spreads the ball out. He’s got tempo in the SEC as well. I love the play action shots as well. They’ve got a really good running back flow, a great running game. All in all, too, I feel like it’s a good team. I’ve been watching the SEC for quite some time now, and I feel like that’s not a bad spot to be, especially for competing. I just want to compete and do the best I can and show the world what I can do in a different level.”
Sanders entered the transfer portal on Dec. 5 after five seasons at Oklahoma State. His departure from Stillwater was one of the more shocking transfer moments of the offseason, and it created plenty of discussion about the future of the Oklahoma State program. Reflecting on that decision, Sanders said he’s thankful for his time with the Cowboys. He just felt like he needed a fresh start.
And it doesn’t hurt that the opportunity will come in the SEC.
“I was grateful for my time (at Oklahoma State),” Sanders said. “I don’t have too much bad to say. I’m grateful for the quarterback they’ve helped me develop into. Coach (Tim) Rattay has a lot of say into that. He’s helped me develop over the years. I didn’t want to leave him. I was sad to leave him. But, you know, maybe this is just for the better. I think it was time for me to split ways and try something new. Try to take my game to the next level.
“They say there’s nothing like SEC play.”
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