The Heritage Hall football team hasn't had what could be classified as a normal practice in the last couple of years.
No, the practices are more like auditions than anything else. College coaches have flocked to the Charger campus for a chance to get a glimpse of some of the state's best talent.
Some are looking at defensive stalwarts Markus Wakefield and Quintaz Struble. Others might be taking a gander at Oklahoma commit Sterling Shepard. But the insanity began with one running back, Barry J. Sanders.
It didn't start this year, but it's finally going to come to an end as Sanders enters his senior season. Nos. 2-5 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 list of the top recruits for the class of 2012 have all committed to their respective school.
Sanders, who stands alone at No. 1, hasn't, meaning the aggressive media attention will only intensify in the coming months.
He's definitely used to it by now, but there still come times when it gets frustrating for Sanders.
Anytime he takes a visit some place, the speculation begins on whether or not that school is now Sanders' favorite.
“It can get annoying, but I'm still feeling pretty good,” Sanders said. “It's not nearly as bad as it could be because I've let a lot of schools know how I'm feeling.”
Though others have tried to creep up in his list, Sanders has remained adamant with his list of Florida State, Oklahoma State, Alabama, UCLA and Stanford as his favorites.
The constant media attention could be enough to create a distraction for Heritage Hall, and that's where the teammates come in.
“He's the same Barry,” wide receiver Cale Courtney said. “He's the same kind of person he was when I met him in seventh grade.”
And his teammates make sure Sanders doesn't start to grow a big head.
“I don't think he's changed at all,” Wakefield said. “He's still just ‘Skinny' to us. He's definitely one of us. We keep him humble.”
One of the guys off the field, Sanders is certainly hoping to be one of the guys on the field this season.
A foot injury in Week 6 derailed his season, and Sanders is close to 100 percent recovered from foot surgery in the winter.
Before the setback, Sanders was on pace for some ridiculous numbers. Instead, he finished with solid numbers. He rushed for 1,168 yards on just 96 attempts and 16 touchdowns, a staggering 12 yards per carry. He also had two receiving touchdowns.
All Sanders could do was watch on the sidelines as Heritage Hall claimed its third state championship. With all the key pieces returning for the Chargers, Heritage Hall is once again the favorite to hoist another gold ball in December.
There's pressure on Sanders to make his commitment. There's pressure on Heritage Hall to win the championship. But you wouldn't know it in talking to Sanders.
“This is what is to be expected,” Sanders said. “Everybody wants to be the best and is coming at you. That's what you want to be a part of.”