STILLWATER, Okla. (BVM) – Through the first five games of Oklahoma State’s 2022 season, quarterback Spencer Sanders had helped lead the Cowboys to a perfect 5-0 record and a No. 8 ranking in the AP poll. Matching up with fellow undefeated conference foe TCU, Oklahoma State led the game that could have put them in the driver’s seat for a potential Big 12 title and College Football Playoff opportunity.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys fell in overtime to TCU, and from there, the season went off the rails, with additional losses coming in four of the team’s last five games. Some of that was due to poor play from Sanders and the offense, evidenced by a 48-0 shutout loss to Kansas State, and a four-interception game in a loss to Oklahoma.
However, for the majority of the season, the senior quarterback played quite well, throwing for 2,642 yards and 17 touchdowns while also rushing for an additional 391 yards and eight scores.
ARE YOU SERIOUS @SpenceSanders
— OSU Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) October 15, 2022
Of course, it was not the first time Sanders shined on the field for the Pokes. After a redshirt year in 2018, the former Gatorade Player of the Year and Mr. Football award winner in the state of Texas set a program record for passing yards by a freshman with 2,065 in 2019 as the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year. Sanders again threw for over 2,000 yards as an honorable mention All-Big 12 player in his sophomore year in 2020.
But perhaps the most memorable season in Sanders’ Oklahoma State tenure came in 2021, as the dual-threat quarterback helped lead the Pokes to an impressive 11-2 season, with over 2,800 passing yards and nearly 700 rushing yards. In the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame, Sanders had arguably the best game of his college career, throwing for 371 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for an additional 125 yards in the win.
However, for Oklahoma State’s bowl game this season – the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against Wisconsin – the Cowboys will not have Sanders under center for the first time in a while, as he has entered his name into the transfer portal, and will spend his final year of college eligibility elsewhere.
Thank you! pic.twitter.com/y8LwvcR1AL
— Spencer Sanders (@SpenceSanders) December 5, 2022
Immediately, Sanders has become one of the top names in the portal, and there are plenty of quarterback-hungry Power 5 teams that could try to pursue him.
While he leaves behind quite the legacy in Stillwater, Sanders will now hope to find one last year of success elsewhere, and there should be plenty of suitors. Here’s a look at some of Sanders’ top transfer options.
Drew Pyne is out at Notre Dame as he has also entered the transfer portal, and while opening-day starter Tyler Buchner could still reclaim the job for 2023, it seems likely Notre Dame could look to upgrade its quarterback room. Sanders would be a perfect dual-threat quarterback in the system that Notre Dame had implemented for Buchner early in the season. He would also bring over a ton of experience for a young head coach in Marcus Freeman. Notre Dame has had an up-and-down 2022 season, but they have won some big games and always have a talented roster. Sanders might just be the missing piece that the Fighting Irish need to get back to the College Football Playoff, and Notre Dame fans are already plenty familiar with his immense talent after his performance in the Fiesta Bowl last season.
Another team that will be in the market for a quarterback is Florida, as Anthony Richardson recently announced that he has declared for the NFL Draft. Again, Sanders would seem to be a nice fit in Florida’s offense as a dual-threat guy, and playing in the SEC could give him additional beneficial experience as he potentially pursues his own NFL career after next season. Between Richardson’s announcement and last week’s dismissal of Jalen Kitna, the Gators are down to freshmen Jack Miller III and Max Brown at quarterback, along with walk-on Jack Engel. Needless to say, Billy Napier will likely be looking for quarterback help in the near future to become competitive again in the SEC, and Sanders could be the guy.
Sanders landing at Tennessee seems a little more far-fetched than Florida or Notre Dame, but there is certainly a scenario where it could happen. Obviously, the Vols had a breakout season this year, and should have a similarly talented roster to compete for an SEC title and College Football Playoff berth in 2023. However, the one question mark is the quarterback position. Hendon Hooker had a phenomenal season prior to getting hurt in 2022, but will be moving on to the NFL. Michigan transfer Joe Milton actually beat Hooker for the job in 2021 before losing it, and took over for him this year after his injury. He is certainly the favorite to start in 2023 over soon-to-be sophomore Tayven Jackson and incoming freshman Nico Iamaleava, and it’s possible Josh Heupel will roll with that. Yet, bringing in someone with the experience of Sanders who is more than capable of excelling in Heupel’s offense could be hard to pass up.