This season’s most headline-grabbing graduate transfer is officially off the table: Barry Sanders, Jr. announced he will finish his career with Oklahoma State.
The former Stanford running back is headed to Stillwater, where his father won the Heisman Trophy after a record-setting season in 1988.
“His message to me was to keep an open mind,” Sanders, Jr. told NewsOK.com‘s Kyle Frederickson in an exclusive Thursday afternoon story. “I think that he would have wanted me to look at more schools. He definitely didn’t want me to make a decision without considering other options. What I told him was that this was something I’ve been thinking about for some time. I just knew this was the right decision and the right fit for a variety of different reasons.”
One of those other options was Alabama, which recruited Sanders, Jr. hard out of high school at the turn of the decade and even violated NCAA rules by putting him on its basketball arena video board in 2011.
The Oklahoma City native chose Stanford over Alabama and Florida State in 2012.
A possible transfer to the Crimson Tide was circulated by several pundits after Sanders, Jr. announced he was leaving Stanford in January. This effectively squeezed him out of the Cardinal game plan by Heisman finalist Christian McCaffrey.
Nick Saban added fuel to the rumor by suggesting the Tide would be looking to add a graduate transfer.
“We’re always looking for good players, and it seems like these graduate transfer guys — just looking at the history of it — it seems like there’s more skill guys, receivers, running backs that do those types of things,” the Alabama coach said earlier this month. “We’ll probably be on the lookout for the next best player we can find. Whether it’s someone who didn’t sign on signing day, or someone who’s out there looking for an opportunity.”
With Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake leaving for the NFL draft, Alabama’s current roster features two sophomores — Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris — in the backfield.
Former Michigan running back Derrick Green is one of few remaining big names looking for a home in 2016 now that Sanders, Jr. made his decision.