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Barry J. Sanders credits foot injury for starting relationship with Stanford

BARRY J. SANDERS — Heritage Hall standout Barry J. Sanders announced before a national TV audience on Saturday that he would play at Sanford University. It was an announcement that never would have been possible had Sanders not injured his foot and had surgery in California in 2010.
BY JASON KERSEY, Staff Writer, Modified: January 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm •  Published: January 7, 2012

“My goal was to get admitted and I did,” Sanders said. “I made my decision after that.”

A source close to Sanders told The Oklahoman on Thursday they were “confident” he would choose Stanford, and Sanders himself said the same day that he had qualified for the Pac-12 school.

But it wasn't official until he got a call Friday morning from Shaw, who told him he had been admitted to the university.

“There were a lot of emotions,” Sanders said. “I knew then that was where I wanted to go.”

Sanders, who Rivals ranks as the eighth-best running back prospect in the country, said last month he has ‘bled orange for a long time' and struggled with the decision in large part because of his lifelong love for the Cowboys. His father, Barry Sanders, won the 1988 Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma State before going on to one of the greatest careers in NFL history.

“I've been close to the (OSU) program for a long time,” Sanders said. “But they were very understanding.”

Heritage Hall coach Andy Bogert said: “I think a lot of people at OSU understand that it's tough to follow in your father's footsteps. He wants to make his own path.”

A path that could have been very different if not for a — lucky? — foot injury that required surgery.

“I don't think they were on the radar until he went out there,” Bogert said. “I think it worked out for him.”