Notebook: Pop Saunders shows off versatility


On paper, you’d think De’Ante “Pop” Saunders was primed to be the next great offensive playmaker.

But you’d be wrong.

The DeLand athlete might have surpassed the 100-yard mark running the ball in three of four games this season, but he says he’ll be content to spend his college days at Florida as a defensive back.

Saunders said he doesn’t have much interest in playing offense at the next level, but if Florida’s coaching staff asks him to stand in for a few plays, he wouldn’t object.

“I’ll help out if needed,” Saunders said.

Through four games, Saunders has rushed for a combined 534 yards and seven touchdowns, and DeLand is 4-0.

“It’s been real good,” Saunders said of his start to the season. “I haven’t had a problem with anything yet.”

You can see why.

Saunders spent his Saturday in Gainesville checking out Florida as the Gators took on Kentucky. Saunders said he had a great time in The Swamp and has been there a few times this season. It’s like his weekend getaway.

Saunders, whom rates as a three-star prospect, said anytime he’s in Gainesville he never finds it hard to reconnect with his friends on Florida’s team.

“I have a good relationship with them because when I go up there I go to their dorms and chill with them every time I go up there,” he said.

As for his current classmates, Saunders said he’s developed a strong relationship with quarterback Jeff Driskel and cornerback Nick Waisome. The three text each other every week to catch up. Most of the talk surrounds how each did in their high school games and if they are making it to Gator games on Saturdays.

What Saunders doesn’t spend a lot of time doing is recruiting. He’ll talk to uncommitted recruits about Florida, but he doesn’t like to press the issue. He’s into more laid back communication.

“I don’t put a lot of pressure on them,” he said. “I just put it in their mind and let them think that it’s a good school, which it is.”

Commits networking
Waisome said Saturday’s atmosphere inside The Swamp was “crazy” and that he’s been working hard to recruit Alabama safety commit Hasean Clinton-Dix. Waisome and the Orlando Dr. Phillps prospect were friends in middle school and Waisome has been in his ear for some time trying to get him to visit Florida.

Word is that Clinton-Dix would be hard to pull from Alabama and that his commitment remains pretty strong. Still, Waisome isn’t giving up for the Gators.

Plantation linebacker Ryan Shazier is also doing a little recruiting for his school. He said he talked mostly with 2012 prospects Tracy Howard (Miramar cornerback) and Amos Leggett (Miami Gulliver Prep athlete). Both were in attendance for Florida’s game Saturday.

Driskel update
Oviedo Hagerty’s Jeff Driskel had his game with Lake Howell postponed last Friday due to weather. He and the Huskies returned to action Monday night and he passed for 158 yards and three touchdowns while running for 128 yards and a score in Hagerty’s 42-13 win.

With the game out of hand by halftime, Driskel sat most of the second half.

Prospects take in The Swamp
With a night game finally taking place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida was able to host a bunch of top-notch recruits.

Here’s a list of guys I saw:

Jeff Driskel
Nick Waisome
De’Ante Pop Saunders
Ryan Shazier
Hunter Joyer
Latroy Pittman (2012)
I was told Ja’Juan Story was there, but I didn’t see him.

Recruits of interest
Tony Steward (LB St. Augustine Pedro Menendez)
Curt Maggitt (DE West Palm Beach Dwyer)
B.J. Dubose (Oakland Park Northeast)
Ricardo Louis (2012 QB Miami Beach)
Amos Leggett (2012 ATH Miami Gulliver Prep)
Matt Jones (2012 RB Seffner Armwood)


  1. Mr. Aschoff, thanks for the latest update on our young recruits and prospects. Do you think we are falling behind in our recruiting this year? Seems like a lot of sportswriters or bloggers do think so. I really like the young commitments so far. I do think we need some more Offensive Line THUMP’ERS!