Jeannette’s James Sanders commits to St. Francis (Pa.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2020 | 6:55 PM

James Sanders went with the school that recruited him from the beginning.

The Jeannette senior standout wide receiver and defensive back verbally committed to St. Francis (Pa.) on Tuesday, a day before the early signing period begins for NCAA Division I and II programs.

He was recruited for defense but said he could move to the offensive side.

“I knew like a month and a half ago that St. Francis is the place for me,” Sanders said.

The Red Flash offered Sanders, a converted quarterback and one of the most athletic players for the WPIAL Class A champion Jayhawks, in September, after the team’s season-opening loss against Clairton.

Jeannette ended up improving as the season wore on as players warmed to their roles, and the Jayhawks dismantled Clairton in the WPIAL title game, thanks in large part to the play of Sanders.

A speedy yards-after-the-catch target for freshman quarterback Brad Birch, he pulled in 35 receptions for 702 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jeannette (10-2) also finished as the PIAA runner-up.

The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Sanders also had three interceptions and broke up 15 passes.

Last season, he was a 1,300-yard passer who tossed 16 touchdown passes.

Sanders will join his brother, Gio Vonne, in Loretto. Gio Vonne Sanders is a redshirt junior defensive back who also used to play quarterback for Jeannette.

The Sanders brothers — there are six of them altogether — have not played on the same football team. James did get to play with Imani and Noah Sanders at Jeannette.

James Sanders said the move to wide receiver enhanced his recruiting.

“I showed that I can play multiple positions and still be dominant and it shows that I am an athlete,” he said. “My film looked way better from last year and I had more big plays to show the college coaches; I can score with the ball in my hands at wide receiver.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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