Walter Sanders is a prime example of someone you may not expect to be affected by the NFL lockout. The Baltimore native is not a current player or coach, nor does he work for a team's front office. Instead, Sanders is one of the numerous players who did not hear his name called during April's draft. He is a free agent in a world without free agency. For those who saw "Inception," he's pretty much stuck in the NFL version of limbo.
Sanders, a former three-sport standout at Mervo, continued his football career at St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, N.C. The 5-foot-9 running back left St. Augustine's with the school's career rushing record and became the Falcons' first 1,000-yard season rusher in the modern era last year.
From May 24-26, Sanders had the opportunity to work out with more than two-dozen Ravens at Towson University. He quickly bonded with Ray Rice, a rusher with similar measurements and a style comparable to Sanders, and someone he has admired for some time.
"I sent him a text message: I've been looking up to you in high school and college," Sanders said of Rice, who has served as a mentor to the undrafted free agent.
They have remained in contact since the workouts; reviewing film and defensive schemes Sanders can expect to face on the professional level. At the same time, Rice imparted simple, yet meaningful advice to Sanders: "Don't think so hard, just play football and know your assignments."
The outcome of his professional aspirations aside, Sanders has already achieved quite a bit. He is the first in his family to graduate college, finishing at St. Augustine's with a GPA above 3.0.
Despite the impending hurdles he faces in making an NFL team, Sanders maintains an optimistic outlook concerning the future.
"Once the lockout's over, everything should fall into place," he said.
Matt Castello, a Maryland student, is an intern at The Baltimore Sun. Our fine interns will contribute guest posts to Baltimore Sports Blitz this summer. Contact Castello at email@example.com.