Posted on February 3, 2011 at 6:22 PM
ARLINGTON, TX - Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was not only given number 88 worn by Lynn Swann who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he hit the jackpot by reaching the Super Bowl as a Rookie.
"I'm blessed to be here," Sanders says. "To play in the same city that I played college football at for the past five years, I couldn't ask for a better situation."
Sanders was the 82nd pick in the 2010 draft, the highest selection from SMU since 1987 and he's never been shy.
A video on youtube.com has him singing a rap song. "E-m-m-a-n-u-e-l. That's my name. I spelled it right here. I'm coming down with Pittsburgh. We're going to win. The Super Bowl in 2010," he says.
Sanders left SMU last year as the schools all time leading receiver in yardage, catches and touchdowns. No one ever questioned his work ethic and now that work ethic is beginning to pay off in the pros.
"That's just who Emmanuel is," says SMU quarterback Kyle Padron. "He's always had a hard work ethic and wanted to prove something. He's always played with a chip on his shoulder, that's probably the best way to describe it. He wants to bet out there and be the best."
Sanders didn't catch a pass in the NFL until week six. He finished the regular season with 28 catches for 376 yards.
He average 13.4 yards per catch, impressive numbers especially for a rookie. "He's one of those kids when the game gets big, he gets big," says SMU head coach June Jones. "That's why I’m excited to see him in the Super Bowl, because he makes plays when the game gets big. I couldn't be more happy for our young man."
" I told Mike Wallace, Santonio, Bryant and Heinz , I said let's go to work," Sanders says. "Let's go to the Super Bowl this year. I've got the opportunity to back to Texas and play in the Super Bowl. Let's take all the necessary steps. Those guys kind of laughed and said be quiet. We're going to do it. Don’t' worry about it."
"He's shown people that he can play at the next level and he's going to continue to get better," Padron says.
The last SMU player to win a Super Bowl ring was Thomas Morstead of the Saints who executed the onside kick to perfection in last year's game.
Sanders hopes to join that club. "Ten percent make the decision he made," Jones says. "90% of them take the easy way out. He took the hard way. It paid off for him. He deserves everything he got."
"When he got drafted, he didn't think about just making the team, he was thinking about having an impact on the team," Jones says. "And he has. He's going to be ready for this game, I can tell you that."