FSU commit Mavin Saunders eyes getting closer to his native Bahamas

Orlando Sentinel

As more coaches learn about Mavin Saunders, the more college football offers he’s likely to see coming his way. The Florida State pledge, however, says the Seminoles have one thing on most every other school.

By attending FSU, Saunders, a native of the Bahamas, is about as close as he can get to his native country, and his parents, while playing big-time college football.

Miami might be the first thing that comes to mind, but the Hurricanes, Saunders said, had their chance.

“If they had offered, maybe things would have been different, who knows,” Saunders said of UM. “I have family in Miami and they can drive up to see me and this will be closer to my hometown.”

Saunders, whose hometown is Bemini, came to the U.S. four years ago as part of a program that helps youngsters from the Bahamas pursue an American education. Saunders (6-foot-6, 220 pounds), who attends The Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas, also just happens to be gifted athlete.

His original calling was basketball and he has several college offers to play at the next level from the likes of UConn and Auburn. But after playing football for the first time last season, he’s hooked, and first-year Florida State assistant coach Tim Brewster has been hooked on Saunders since the first time he saw him.

Brewster, who was at Mississippi State before coming to FSU, offered Saunders in February, and when he joined Jimbo Fisher’s staff in Tallahassee in March, he picked up pursuit of the big receiver again. Once the Seminoles got Saunders on campus last week, it was a done deal.

“It’s a good fit for me,” Saunders said. “It’s a great coaching staff and they feel they can utilize me in a pretty good way.

“I feel like it’s the best place for me but you never know what can happen later on. I know it has been crazy with people committing and decommitting and I don’t feel like that can happen to me, but who knows. I just know that it is a good fit for me and I am looking forward to it.”

Saunders also has 14 other offers with the heaviest interest, he said, coming from Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Ohio State. FSU, however, has won him over.

“Being closer to home, that played a big role, and also I talked to the Florida State coach [Brewster] every day and became more interested than in the others,” Saunders said.

His quick success on the football field has surprised him and his Kinkaid School coach, Steven Hill, who had tried to get him out for football since he enrolled at the school as a freshman.

“It’s just a whole ’nother game and I just thought at first I’d try to be able to compete and if that don’t work then who knows,” Saunders said. “I think I surprised myself and surprised my coach of how quickly things happened. We just worked hard and did everything we could do, and things picked up. It’s good for me and good for the school. All the other guys will be looked at too, so overall it’s a great thing for the whole program.”

He picked it up so quickly that in his first season he had 40 catches for 505 yards and six touchdowns.

“I was just playing basketball mainly, but I decided to go toward football instead,” said Saunders, who has averaged 16.5 points and 8.6 rebounds on the basketball team.

He made a big splash his first year in Houston, playing for the St Marks Lutheran School, which he led to the state title. In the final against San Antonio Lutheran, Saunders had 52 points, 21 rebounds, nine assists, and seven blocks.

But he’s in the football zone now and ready to get started as a Seminole.

“It’s just a perfect fit. Everything is right around the school and it’s a big football town,” Saunders said. “They have good coaching and I’ll be used in the right way.

“Playing in front of the fans and being able to play for championships and stuff like that, leaning the pro system and I’ll be fulfilling a dream of playing at the next level at such a good university … a storied university.”

Speaking of the pro system, does the Big Bahaman have grandiose dreams of the NFL?

“I’d be lying if I say I don’t think about it, but I try not to,” he said. “I just have to keep working and keep getting better. It’s just been one year and hopefully I’ll make another big jump this year and go to college and work from there.

“I’m just trying to take this thing step by step.”

And with each step he gets closer to his parents, who are not very familiar with this game that Americans call football.

“No they don’t really know anything about it,” Saunders said. “They just know I’m coming closer to home. Who knows, they might even be able to come up and see me play.”


Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at chays@tribune.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.

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