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Alabama RB Trey Sanders reflects on Coach Nick Saban helping him through adversity

Trey Sanders (#6) runs the ball for Alabama versus Miami
Picture by Crimson Tide photos

Trey Sanders is headed for greatness on and off the field.

If one wrote a book on how a five-star athlete should handle adversity, Sanders would be the author.

RELATED: Alabama running back Trey Sanders weighs in on Agiye Hall’s situation

Three years ago, he stood as the most sought-after running back prospect on the recruiting circuit. As a native Floridian, every major program wanted Sanders’ services. He chose the University of Alabama in 2019 after a dominant high school career at IMG Academy. Sanders’ confidence grabbed attention quickly as he boldly declared his mission to win the Heisman Memorial Trophy as a freshman. A foot injury in preseason camp prevented him from taking carries from Najee Harris and Brian Robinson.

He missed his first season with the Crimson Tide, but Sanders looked forward to year two. 

He had success as a sophomore, including 80 yards rushing on 12 carries versus Mississippi State. Sanders posted a couple of 20+ yard runs in the matchup, and Tide fans felt he was about to emerge. Disappointment and frustration would sink in as Sanders encountered another setback. He sustained injuries in a car accident in Florida – including a hip situation that required surgery.

People wondered if he would be able to walk again, but Sanders never operated in fear.

RELATED: Trey Sanders, Alabama running backs looked good in spring scrimmage

The amount of training and rehab he put in allowed him to return for the 2021 season and record 314 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He went from celebrating a national championship in 2020 in a wheelchair to dancing in confetti after Alabama won the 2022 SEC Championship. Sanders owes a lot to Jeff Allen, Jeremy Gsell, and the Crimson Tide’s training staff, but he reflected on how Coach Nick Saban helped him the most in his time of need.

“Coach Saban was one of the main people that kept me going throughout the process,” Sanders said to reporters in today’s media availability. “It was times I felt like I could not do it. It was times I was in a wheelchair rolling around the facility, going out to practice, and watching others practice. I was not able to practice, and Coach Saban would call me in a meeting and talk to me. He gave me hope for the future. Each time he talked to me, he gave me hope and a better outlook on how I wanted to come out of my injury and a car wreck. Having him by my side helped me a lot.”

Sanders’ statement continues a long list of players Saban has mentored through challenging points in their lives.

Coach Saban has been complimentary of Sanders’ toughness, competitiveness, and desire to be a leader.

He looks to produce a big season for Alabama in the fall.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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