TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders became the second Seminole selected by the Buffalo Bills in the 2012 NFL Draft when he was taken with the 144th pick Saturday. Sanders joined fellow teammate linebacker Nigel Bradham who was chosen in the fourth round with the 105thselection.
“Zebrie’s a guy that’s very intelligent, very conscientious, does the right things, stands for the right things and believes in team,” FSU head football coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He was a great student-athlete at Florida State in and out of the classroom. I’m extremely happy for him and his family as he continues his playing career at the next level.”
After having taken only five Seminole players ever in the draft, the Bills picked up two with the additions of Sanders and Bradham now bringing the total to seven Seminoles selected by the organization.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity playing with the Bills,” Sanders said. “I’m glad they spent a pick in me and trusted me with that. It’s going to be nice just being able to go up there and compete with Nigel (Bradham) and hopefully earn a spot on the field.”
A four-year starter at offensive tackle for the Seminoles, Sanders made a team-high 50 career starts, including 36 consecutive games. The 50 career starts tied for the second-most in Florida State history. He capped off his career by earning first team All-ACC honors and was a two-time All-ACC Academic football team member.
As a senior in 2011, he was the runner-up for the Jacobs Blocking Award, presented to the ACC’s most dominant offensive lineman. He opened the season as the starter on the right side, but was moved to left tackle for the final seven regular season games following a season-ending injury to fellow senior Andrew Datko. He consistently ranked among the top-graded offensive linemen at FSU, posting a season average grade of 76 and led the team with 819 snaps. He posted a team-leading 28 knockdown blocks, pushing his career total to 139, tops among all FSU linemen. He was penalized just eight times all season and allowed only two sacks after making the move to left tackle as quarterback EJ Manuel’s blind-side protector over the final eight game.
Sanders saved his best performance for his final game, logging a career-high grade of 94 percent in FSU’s 18-14 Champs Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame, when he started alongside four true freshmen up front. He registered three knockdowns and did not have a missed assignment against the Fighting Irish.
Sanders put together the best six-game stretch of his career in terms of grades – Clemson, Wake Forest, Duke, Maryland, NC State and Boston College – posting five grades of 80 percent or better. He earned a grade of 89 percent at Boston College, which followed an 85 against NC State. He matched a career high with five knockdown blocks against the Wolfpack. He graduated in December 2011 with a degree in retail merchandising and product development.
“They’re getting a player that’s going to always be on the field whether he’s hurt or not,” Sanders said. “I’m always going to give my all. I’m always going to try to make sure I leave it all on the field. I’m definitely going to fight through pain and make sure I get better as a smart player.”