BRADENTON - Manatee High School grad Ace Sanders was limited to 1 day at the Jacksonville Jaguars rookie mini-camp after suffering an abdominal strain. Nonetheless, ABC 7's Don Brennan spoke with his father about the vicarious thrill of seeing your son drafted to the NFL.
Tracy Sanders is now an assistant coach at Manatee High School, but first he is a father, and it was being a father that made him so nervous as he watched the NFL draft with hopes his son Ace would be drafted.
"To actually finally hear his name called was a humongous relief. It’s still so unreal. I am still floating on cloud 9, just believing the fact that it happened."
Tracy himself was a state championship QB at Manatee before going to play for Bobby Bowden at FSU, but he is having much more fun watching his son play out his dreams than he did trying to live his own. “To reach a lifelong dream and see it come to fruition? I have to say watching Ace get drafted is my most proud moment."
Ace was a 4-year starter for the Hurricanes before heading to South Carolina to play for Steve Spurrier. While there, Ace progressed every season, with a total of 9 TDs this season, over 1,200 yards receiving, while also running the ball a bit and being a punt returner. He even threw 2 TD passes in his time there. The culmination being an MVP award in the Outback Bowl, which helped his decision to go pro.
"Ace snatched the door open and said, 'it's the call! It’s the call! It’s the call! It’s Jacksonville, it’s Jacksonville!' Then Ace and I started jumping up and down like we were doing some kind of dance or something."
"Oh, it was very exciting. What a great opportunity for a fine young man. He was a 4-year starter for us, and went up and impacted the South Carolina program," says Manatee head coach Joe Kinnan.
The Jaguars have a new owner, a new head coach, and a new beginning, so Ace is in a place where the whole organization is going in the same direction. In fact, east is the direction his parents will be heading a lot this coming season. “We don't have to travel a whole day and a half to see him. There are family members on my side that live in Jacksonville, and family members on Ace’s mom's side that live there, too,” says Sanders.