The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Twice as Nice

Heading into their second year on the field together, sophomore quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and senior wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders are ready to carry the Mustangs to a winning season.
Mitchell and Sanders are friends on and off the field. Courtesy of SMU Athletics

Mitchell and Sanders are friends on and off the field. Courtesy of SMU Athletics

Last year, sophomore quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 2,865 total yards. Emmanuel Sanders, the senior wide receiver who many teams have come to fear, was responsible for 67 passes and 958 of those yards.

This year, the bar is set even higher, as the SMU football team looks to improve from a dismal 1-11 record in head coach June Jones’ debut season on the Hilltop.

Off the field, the dynamic duo is just as close. As they jog off the field following an early morning practice in the sweltering Texas heat, Mitchell and Sanders can be heard joking to each other about the upcoming game against Stephen F. Austin.

“I haven’t seen that in the past three years and that’s why I’m so optimistic for this upcoming season,” Sanders said. “Bo knows the system now and he’s more comfortable in the pocket now. He knows his reads and he knows where the ball is supposed to go. When he’s comfortable he’s very accurate.”

In 2008, Mitchell threw 24 touchdowns, three of which came in his college debut against Rice. His five touchdown passes against Texas State, the team’s only victory, tied Mitchell for the second most all-time record in a single game in Mustang history.

Despite 23 interceptions in his first season, Mitchell is first to admit improvements must be made if SMU hopes to play in a bowl game.

“I’m looking to improve the turnover ratio,” Mitchell said. “That’s one thing that wins football games. We didn’t have that last year. One thing I know is if I’ve got guys like Emmanuel I don’t have to do too much myself. I just need to get them the ball, let them make their plays and just go with it.”

Sanders was the man responsible for catching nine of those interceptions, making him the first player in SMU history to record three 600-yard receiving seasons. While Sanders, the second team All-Conference USA contender started all 10 games, Mitchell, coming into Jones’ run and shoot offense, started all 12. Sanders finished last season ranked at the No. 11 spot for receiving yards per game (95.8) and No. 19 with 6.7 catches per game.

Entering his final year on the team after redshirting his freshman year in 2005, Sanders, more than anyone, wants to graduate with a record-setting season and bowl game appearance on his resume.

“I told coach Jones after I decided to come back, I’m staying to go to a bowl game and I believe where he’s taking this program and I know he’s taking it in the right direction,” Sanders said. “I haven’t had a thousand yard season here yet and I’m looking forward to hopefully getting that this year.”

The team spends what free time they have between classes, meetings and practices hanging out together, hoping the trust they build off the field will carry over to kick off.

“I know Emmanuel is going to go up and get every ball I throw to him,” Mitchell said. “It feels good to have that kind of playmaker on the team, and at the same time it feels good to have the other three receivers out there because we all have a year under our belt, so we know the system better and we know where the ball is supposed to be.”

The pair spent the summer running routes within the walls of Ford Stadium, memorizing the steps and timing of one another to insure perfection come game time.

“I think we’re going to be good this year and better on the offensive side of the ball,” Sanders said. “When you’re comfortable playing your true talent comes out.”

Off the field, the bond between quarterback and receiver is unparalleled.

“He’s my dude, man. He’s something special,” Sanders said about his quarterback. “I’ve never seen a guy like him. He wears his earrings and his hat down low and kind of reminds me of a brother a little bit.”

While the role of quarterback is to lead the team, Mitchell and Sanders agree the shared leadership effort of the other members make this team something special and capable of winning.

“I think we’re going to be a lot more successful this year,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got people like Emmanuel and Bryan McCann that have the experience and leadership out there. I’ve come out here and I know every time that number 17 is going to be where I need him to be.”

“We’re a team full of leaders. Not one guy is a leader on this team,” Sanders said. “We’ve all got to step up at certain times, especially Bo because he’s the quarterback.”

Saturday’s game against Stephen F. Austin will show fans the hard work and dedication the pair has to the game. The confidence is evident as the team leaves the field and a serious, yet fun manner sweeps across the stands until 7 p.m. this weekend.

“People forget it’s called football and it’s just a game, so even out there while we’re practicing we’re having fun,” Emmanuel said. “If you go in the locker room right now it’s guys laughing up a storm and just having a good time. There’s music playing and guys having fun and that’s what it’s all about.”

Come Saturday, Mitchell and Sanders expect the music to be pounding and the jokes circulating as SMU celebrates their season-opening victory.

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