Sanders resilient at recovery

Florida's Terron Sanders speaks with media following practice on Aug. 12, 2010.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 1:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 1:24 p.m.

You can't keep a good man down — even by multiple injuries.

Gator senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders is a prime example. He's been through more than his share of physical setbacks, yet every time, he has bounced back.

“It started my senior year in high school,” said the former Bradenton Southeast prep standout. “I tore my medial meniscus, then came up here and found out I had actually torn both the medial and lateral meniscus in the same year. That was all in the left knee. When I finally did get on the practice field, I ended up getting a concussion.

“Then in my right knee, I tore my medial and lateral meniscus in the spring of 2007. And, I ended up having a high ankle sprain in my left ankle during the season.”

The ankle sprain caused Sanders, who had played as a reserve in the Gators' first six games of 2007, to miss the final five games of that, his redshirt freshman, season.

Again he rebounded, this time to be a starter for UF's 2008 national championship team, registering 21 tackles and four tackles for loss. Last season, he played in 12 games, adding 19 more tackles and two more tackles for loss to his career totals.

But just when it seemed the injury bug was finally behind him, it raised its ugly head again, only this time it wasn't on the football field.

“I was just riding my scooter across campus and I hit a pothole,” Sanders said. “It happened pretty quick.”

The result was a torn ACL. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Sanders had surgery in January of this year, and he said he's fully recovered and ready to go out on a high note — knee brace and all.

“I feel fine. I'm good to go,” he said. “It's not going to be an issue.”

Neither is motivating this year's Gator defense after last year's SEC Championship game loss to eventual BCS champion Alabama.

“Anytime you lose a game that big, you always focus on the things that caused you to lose the game,” Sanders said. “It's definitely been a factor as to how hard we've been training this offseason. We've got a lot of veterans on the defensive line this year, and we felt terrible about losing to Alabama.”

Sanders said the feeling after the game was one of the worst he's ever experienced as a player.

“You would have thought somebody died,” he said when asked what the Gator locker room was like after the humbling defeat. “It was very quiet and very grim — not what you want to experience from a big-time game like that.”

Sanders noted he could feel something wasn't right in Atlanta.

“Alabama had an answer for everything we threw at them, and I would say that we let a lot of complacency set in on the team,” he said. “They had a bigger chip on their shoulder than we did.

“It's true. We got comfortable, and I'd say we felt unbeatable. As a whole, I'd say we probably didn't prepare as well as we should have.”

Lesson learned?

“Oh yeah. We don't want to feel that heartbreak again,” Sanders said. “We know that as long as we stay together and play for each other, then there's no one else who can beat us other than ourselves.”

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