That’s how East Tennessee State’s Austin Herink looked on Sunday when Randy Sanders was introduced as East Tennessee State’s new football coach.
“I think we’re excited about this,” Herink said after Sanders was announced as Carl Torbush’s replacement. “Coach Sanders has a great track record. I grew up in East Tennessee and I always looked up to him, so I thought that was pretty cool.”
Sanders will have one season to work with Herink, who was fifth in the Southern Conference in total offense as a junior. He passed for 2,213 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions while running an offense that was last in the league in rushing yards.
“I think we’re all excited about it,” Herink said. “We’re sad to see Coach Torbush leave, but I think Scott (Carter) and the administration did a great job with this hire.”
Sanders coached Peyton Manning at Tennessee and James Winston at Florida State, and Herink is ready to get to work picking the brain of his new coach.
“That’s really exciting,” Herink said. “Those are some big-name guys. It will be really great to work with him and learn a lot more about the game.”
Herink expects to see more of Sanders than he did of Torbush simply because the new coach comes in with a background in offense. The 2013 Florida State team set the national record with 723 points in a season.
Herink transferred to ETSU after red-shirting a year at Middle Tennessee State, coached by Rick Stockstill, who also had a Florida State connection. Stockstill is a former FSU quarterback.
“I remember when I was at MTSU, Coach Stockstill was more of an offensive-minded coach, so he tended to be in more of the offensive meetings rooms,” Herink said. “The last few years with Coach Torbush, he ’s been more of a defensive minded coach so I feel like Coach Sanders will probably be more hands-on with the offense and more involved with the game plan on our side of the ball.”
Sanders vs. former Bucs
Sanders’ final game with Florida State will have an ironic twist.
The Seminoles will take on Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27 and two members of the Golden Eagles’ staff were at ETSU last season.
Erik Losey, the ever-intense offensive line coach, is coaching the line at Southern Miss. Also at Southern Miss is Andrew Sims, who served as the director of football operations at ETSU. Sims is the team’s director of social media and the on-campus recruiting coordinator.
Florida State, which barely qualified for a bowl game with a 6-6 record, is a 16-point favorite.
What they’re saying
Sanders’ hiring brought a good deal of reaction from around the college football world. ETSU released some comments from people who have worked with Sanders.
Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer: “Randy Sanders is as good a coach as I worked with during my 40 years of coaching. He is smart, tough, a great game planner and at his best calling plays on game day. Randy is excellent at identifying and recruiting talent. He and Cathy are wonderful people and the people of East Tennessee will enjoy having them back home.”
Former MVP quarterback Peyton Manning: “Coach Sanders was a strong early influence on me as a prospect and as a player in my years at Tennessee. With his football knowledge and abilities as a recruiter and leader, ETSU has a bright future both on and off the field.”
Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston: “Coach Sanders’ work ethic, humility and preparation was a huge part to my success as a player. He never got too high or too low. His ability to stay calm and confident helped me tremendously at the quarterback position, but it also helped me grow as a young man. I’m so thankful that I had a coach that was able to lead and coach me into a player that understood I must take advantage of every opportunity. “
Former ETSU player and Falcons coach Mike Smith: “Randy Sanders is a highly respected coach and an outstanding fit for ETSU. I look forward to supporting him and celebrating championship-level success in the future.”
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe: “Randy Sanders had great football knowledge as a player, but more importantly he was a great leader and teammate. He was a great football coach from his first day on the job at Tennessee! He’s an outstanding man, friend, and person. Randy is one of the most respected teachers of quarterbacks in our game. He’s the perfect fit at ETSU. I’m excited for Randy, Cathy, and his family.”