There’s no question why he’s here.
“The best thing to do is go out there and be your own person,” said Barry Sanders, son of the former OSU running back and former Detroit Lions star. “That’s what my family has told me to do for 15 years. You’ve got to be your own person no matter who your parents are. You have to make a path for yourself.”
Growing up as the son of Barry Sanders has been a blessing but there’s also the unfair hype that comes with being the son of a star athlete.
“That’s the biggest challenge. Usually all the headlines, it’s, ‘Barry Sanders son,’ ‘the son of the hall-of-famer,'” Sanders said. “But hey, I guess it comes with the territory. I have to live with it.”
“My dad puts no pressure; my family puts no pressure so I don’t think I should put pressure on myself.”
He does, however, watch lots of film of his famous father, especially the 1988 Heisman Trophy season.
“Every game just seemed like a highlight reel, especially the Holiday Bowl that year,” Sanders said.
“I can definitely understand the runs and what was going through his head. Basically, it’s all instinct – that’s what I can see. He just reacts to the defender and lets his reactions do all the work.”
The younger Sanders will only be a sophomore at Heritage Hall, but he already has a highlight reel of his own. His 64-yard touchdown run in the state semi-finals last season generated more than 1.3 million views on YouTube.
“I guess I inherited the instinct as you would say,” Sanders said.
But football talk between father and son has been few and far between. After scoring three touchdowns in a state championship win in December, it was two simple but heartfelt words spoken.
“I got into his rental car and he told me ‘good job,'” Sanders said. “That was enough for me.”
Sanders says that was the extent of on-the-field advice he’s received. But, like father, like son, Barry Jr. is developing a style all his own.
“I try to keep the being as good as my dad comparison out of it, but trying to be as good as that great player,” Sanders said. “That’s definitely what I try to accomplish.”
“His numbers are out of this world. For somebody to compare themselves to him, they’re asking for failure. It’s big shoes to fill.”