January 10, 2009

Sanders on road to recovery

Springfield (MO) Glendale TE Alex Sanders had his season cut short when he suffered a devastating injury in October. The Mizzou commit tore his LCL, ACL and fractured his fibula when it was all said and done.

"I went in and Dr. Patrick Smith, Mizzou's doctor, went in and cut me open and fixed my LCL on October 14th about three months ago," Sanders said. "I rehabbed that until now, and I am going in to get my ACL done on the 16th of January. He (Smith) did it like this because he wanted me to be able to get all of my range of motion back a lot better.

"So far it has been working great," he continued. "I can walk on it right now and jog and all that kind of stuff. He is going to go in and fix my ACL and after I get out of surgery there, I am already going to be moved up to Columbia because I am graduating early. I will start rehab with Rex Sharp and get going from there until I will be healed up probably before the summer starts."

In the process of healing, the 6-foot-5 tight end said he has put on a little weight, but he still feels that he is in good shape. The injury has been draining both physically and mentally he said.

"It's tough especially after I hurt it and had surgery because I could not walk on my leg for about a month-and-half," he said. "I had to use crutches, but I started to be able to walk with therapy, and I have a personal trainer who helps work out with me, and I ride a bike to break a sweat and not get fat or anything."

Before the injury, Sanders made a decision to graduate early. At the time, he expected to benefit from being in Columbia early to practice with the team. Now, there is another reason why he is happy he made that decision.

"When you look at it, I am glad I chose this because now I get to do rehab with Mizzou's athletic training center and staff," the tight end said. "I am really excited about it and ready to get up there."

As far as being concerned about how well his leg will perform in the future, Sanders thinks he will be better than ever.

"I believe I will be faster by the end of all this," he said. "I should be able to jump just as high. They say none of that is going to slow me down. I am going to be better if anything."

Sanders has kept in close contact with the staff and had a visit from head coach Gary Pinkel on Thursday night. He has also been keeping in touch with fellow recruits such as Jack Meiners, Justin Britt and Ashton Glaser. Part of the reason he chose Missouri was the family atmosphere. Another was the opportunity to carry on the great tight end tradition that Missouri has developed in recent years.

"That is another big reason I chose Missouri," Sanders said. "Obviously, I want to go to the NFL after I'm done and going to Mizzou is pretty much one of the best ways to get in there with the tight ends they have. I just know that the coaches are going to help me get to where I want to be. Coach Bruce Walker is a great guy. He is on the same page as me and wants to get me wherever we can go."

This year's recruiting class is shaping up to be one of the best the Tigers have had, and Sanders thinks national championship dreams are not out of the question.

"Some of the recruits we have coming in, we are going to have one of the best recruiting classes Mizzou has ever had," he said. "Last year, they had a great recruiting class also. Truthfully, I don't think a national championship is that far away. I am going to work as hard as I can to get that, and I think everyone else will too. I am excited about it."

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