From Tuscaloosa to Fayetteville: Drew Sanders emerging on Arkansas’ defense

Adam Baranovsky, Contributing Writer

No. 2 Alabama is headed to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to face the No. 20 Arkansas Razorbacks in their second SEC game of the year.  

As the Crimson Tide looks to the opposite sideline to see their former five-star recruit on the Razorbacks, they may begin to wonder about what could have been. 

Drew Sanders, a former five-star outside linebacker and one of the highlights of Alabama’s sensational 2020 recruiting class, transferred to Arkansas in April 2022. Sanders was supposed to be one of the key pieces to Alabama’s defense along with Will Anderson Jr. However, after a bevy of injuries and the breakout of former five-star Dallas Turner, a transfer was seemingly inevitable. 

Not only has Sanders been starting in Fayetteville, but he has seen his draft stock rise dramatically while leading the nation in sacks with 5.5 in his first four games with the Razorbacks. A projected first-round pick, Sanders’ 32 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two forced fumbles have been a huge part to Arkansas’ 3-1 start to the season.  

Sanders’ versatility at playing different positions on the defense made Arkansas an appealing destination for him, and the school offered him to move to middle linebacker as well. Alabama lost middle linebacker Christian Harris to the NFL this past season, so a Sanders start seemed inevitable.  

“Drew was a good player when he was here,” head coach Nick Saban said. “Had an unfortunate injury. He’s certainly playing well for them. It’s good to see he’s doing a good job. We’re happy for him and his family. He probably would have been a starter here this year.”  

Despite losing Sanders, the Crimson Tide still finds itself very strong on defense and ranking second in all college football in total defense. 

Kickoff is set for Saturday, Oct. 1, at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]