USF LB Sanchez shining on coverage teams
TAMPA -- Armando Sanchez made a big splash against Florida Atlantic when he returned a block punt for a touchdown, but he's making a consistent name for himself in kick coverage as USF's top special-teams tackler, with twice as many tackles as his closest teammate.
"All I do is run down there and try to keep my vision open to everything. I don't know if I'm lucky or (what)," said Sanchez, a sophomore linebacker from Northeast High. "Another thing the coaches say is don't think somebody else is going to make the tackle. I always run with that mindset. I just want to help the team out, so I always run down there with the intentions of making the tackle."
Nearly all of Sanchez's 12 tackles have come on punt and kickoff coverage -- he had three of USF's four special-teams tackles at Cincinnati on Friday, and is now one short of his total from last season.
"As of now, that's my role on the team, so I take a lot of pride in it," said Sanchez, who played quarterback in high school. "It's just effort. You have to always have effort. It's about playing every play like it's your last, things like that."
Sanchez earned the special-teams captain nod for USF's opener, and he's shown himself to be a leader on that unit throughout the season, not only for production in games, but for his approach in practice and in the video room as well.
"Armando Sanchez works his butt, every play, every series, every everything," said Vernon Hargreaves, who coaches USF's special teams. "He's not the fastest guy on kickoff coverage, but he's always the first guy down there. The other day, one of the guys asks me 'What is he doing?' I said 'What do you mean, what is he doing? He's running. Running hard.' This is a guy who if you lined him up next to Armando and ran a 40, he'd probably beat him by two or three yards. Guess what? Out on the field is sometimes a lot different than straight-line speed. He's been the most consistent. He's really embraced his role -- he's on all four teams, and he's busting his butt on all four of them. You need guys like that. Quite frankly, we need about three or four more like that."