USC Gamecocks Football

Shilo Sanders embraces pressure. His goal? Exceed expectations with Gamecocks

‘I love to compete’: Shilo Sanders joins Gamecocks

Cornerback Shilo Sanders breaks down why he joined South Carolina and how he thinks he can help the Gamecocks football team.
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Cornerback Shilo Sanders breaks down why he joined South Carolina and how he thinks he can help the Gamecocks football team.

Shilo Sanders knows the pressure and expectations that go with being the son of one of the best cornerbacks in NFL history.

But rather than shy away from it, Shilo embraces everything that comes with being Deion Sanders’ son. He plays the same position his dad does and also wore the famed No. 21 his dad wore in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.

“Playing corner with the last name Sanders, people try to put a lot of pressure on you,” Sanders said Wednesday. “There is a lot of expectations and I like it. I like going out there and exceeding expectations.”

Sanders hopes to exceed those expectations during his career at South Carolina. He officially signed with the Gamecocks on National Signing Day at Trinity Christian High School in Texas. He plans on enrolling at USC in May for the Maymester.

Deion Sanders was right there by his son’s side Wednesday, along with Shilo’s two brothers. Deion was a proud father and sported a black Gamecocks hat while his son flashed a “Spurs Up” sign while posing for pictures.

Deion wants his son to create the best path for himself, rather worry about his father’s accolades during his 14-year career. The elder Sanders points out that his son has only been playing cornerback for one year but excelled in that year.

Shilo had 19 tackles, five interceptions this season in helping Trinity Christian to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Division II state championship.

“Shilo is a guy who doesn’t like to lose. On and off the field, in the classroom, we have been winning. He has that attitude and South Carolina has the same. It is a wonderful match,” Deion Sanders said. “I don’t plan on Shilo following in my footsteps. I plan on him creating his own. Shilo is a tough, hard-nosed guy, stubborn at times, but the sky is the limit.”

Gamecocks’ coach Will Muschamp sees huge potential in Shilo’s game and told reporters Wednesday that he has “huge genetic upside” and liked what they saw from him immediately when he attended one of USC’s camps.

Shilo credits the atmosphere at USC and authenticity with the Gamecocks coaches as some of the factors in picking the Gamecocks. He built a strong relationship with defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson, who like Sanders is a former cornerback.

Robinson and Trinity Christian co-defensive coordinator Kevin Matthis were teammates with the Falcons and remained friends over the years. Sanders said he likes Robinson’s coaching style and how he uses and rotates defensive backs.

As far as his playing style, the 6-foot Shilo describes himself as physical and someone that isn’t afraid to mix it up at the line of scrimmage. Trinity Christian defensive backs coach Cory Turner told The State last month Sanders is “a technician, and if he is bumping you at the line you can forget about it.”

“The coaches like that I love to compete,” Shilo said. “I’m going to work and that is what they like. They want someone that they don’t care who they put in front of them and that is what I do,” Sanders said. “Going to South Carolina with coach T-Rob he definitely is going to get me right for the NFL.”

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Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.