Wise beyound his years, Jameis Winston isn't shy about sharing the glory surrounding his growing success -- but he deserves a great deal of credit, too, writes Brandon Mellor
Florida State's four-player quarterback battle takes center stage Saturday at 2 p.m. inside Doak Campbell Stadium.
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Randy Sanders enters his second season at Florida State where he serves as the quarterbacks coach and added co-offensive coordinator duties in the offseason. His first year in Tallahassee marked an auspicious beginning as he was instrumental in the immense success of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston leading the Noles to their third national title in 2013. An 11-year offensive coordinator in the SEC at Tennessee and Kentucky, Sanders also won a national championship in 1998 with the Vols.
Under the watch of Sanders, Winston produced record-breaking numbers that included 4,057 yards passing, 40 touchdowns and a 66.9 completion percentage (257-384) in 2013. Winston became the youngest Heisman Trophy winner ever, eclipsing 300 yards passing in a game seven times in the 2013 championship-winning season. Among Winston's innumerable feats attained as a redshirt freshman, he stands as the only quarterback in school history to guide the Seminoles to 11 consecutive games with 40 points or more. Among the offensive accomplishments from 2013, Florida State led the nation with a team passing efficiency of 174.69.
Sanders joined the Seminoles after a stint at Kentucky where he was the Wildcats' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach since 2009. The Morristown, Tennessee, native previously spent his entire coaching career in the SEC where he began as a volunteer assistant with the Volunteers in 1989. Sanders has served as the offensive coordinator at both Tennessee and Kentucky and has been a part of coaching staffs that have been to 21 bowl games in his coaching career, including the 1999 National Championship game at Tennessee where he served as the offensive coordinator for the Fiesta Bowl win over FSU that year.
Upon his arrival at Kentucky in 2006, Sanders helped Andre' Woodson develop from an inconsistent performer into one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Seemingly overnight, Woodson blossomed as a player and a field general, leading the Wildcats to some of the most memorable triumphs in school history, including a pair of Music City Bowl championships.
Along the way, Woodson led the Southeastern Conference in passing yardage, total offense and touchdown passes, including an SEC record of 40 TD tosses in 2007. He earned All-SEC honors both seasons and was drafted by the NFL's New York Giants.
Sanders went back to square one in 2008. He did a masterful job of melding the inexperienced talents of then-sophomore Mike Hartline and freshman Randall Cobb into a capable tandem. The QB duo led the Wildcats to a third-consecutive postseason victory in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Sanders turned in another deft coaching performance in 2009. Hartline was the starting quarterback until going down with an injury in the fifth game. For the remainder of the season, Sanders juggled Cobb, seldom-used junior Will Fidler and true freshman Morgan Newton at QB. And, once again, the offense produced enough points to advance to a bowl game, along with ground-breaking victories at Auburn and Georgia.
Hartline stayed healthy in 2010, enjoying a terrific season and finishing his career among the top five in school history in every passing category.
Sanders was Kentucky's offensive coordinator beginning in 2009 and took on primary playcalling duties in 2010. In his first year in that role, UK averaged 6.1 yards per play, second best in school history, and 406 total points ranks third in UK history.
Prior to Kentucky, Sanders spent 22 seasons (1984-2005) as a player and coach at Tennessee, including the last seven as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was named offensive coordinator after the 1998 regular season when David Cutcliffe became head coach at Ole Miss. Sanders' first game as offensive coordinator was the 1999 Fiesta Bowl when the Volunteers defeated Florida State for the national championship.
A native of Morristown, Tenn., Sanders was a quarterback on the Tennessee football team from 1984-88. He earned four varsity letters and was a four-year member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He remained with the team as a volunteer assistant coach, helping coach the quarterbacks in 1989-90 under Coach Johnny Majors.
Sanders was promoted to full-time assistant coach in 1991, working with the wide receivers in 1991-92. New head coach Phillip Fulmer named him running backs coach and recruiting coordinator in 1993. Sanders stayed in those roles through `98, recruiting the players that took Tennessee to the national title, before moving to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach following Cutcliffe's departure.
While Sanders was on the Tennessee coaching staff, the Vols had a record of 162-46-2 (.776) and won four SEC championships and six Eastern Division crowns in addition to their national title. The Vols played in 16 bowl games, including four Citrus Bowls, three Fiesta Bowls, three Cotton Bowls, two Peach Bowls, and once each in the Sugar, Orange, Hall of Fame and Gator bowls.
Sanders and his wife, Cathy, have two daughters, Kelly and Kari.