17 Star Athletes Who Didn't Start Until Their Senior Year of High School

It's not when you get your chance, it's what you do with it.

Barry Sanders

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Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders did receive significant amounts of playing time as a defensive back prior to his senior year at Wichita North High School (Witchita, Kansas), but the fact he didn't start at running back until his senior season is shocking enough to earn him a spot on this list. 

After all, we're talking about a guy who would end up as one of the greatest running backs in the history of the sport.

For the first few games of his senior year, the future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee started at cornerback while also filling the role of second-string wingback.

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Barry Sanders did receive significant amounts of playing time as a defensive back prior to his senior year at Wichita North High School (Witchita, Kansas), but the fact he didn't start at running back until his senior season is shocking enough to earn him a spot on this list. 

After all, we're talking about a guy who would end up as one of the greatest running backs in the history of the sport.

For the first few games of his senior year, the future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee started at cornerback while also filling the role of second-string wingback.

His coach eventually decided to give him a shot at running back, and Sanders ended up rushing for 1,417 yards in the final seven games of the season. That was enough to earn a scholarship to Oklahoma State, and the rest is history.

It was actually an experience on the junior varsity team at Wichita North that shaped Sanders' unique, fearless style.

He was the team's punt returner during a close game, and he chose not to run up and catch several punts for fear of muffing the ball and blowing the game. The team went on to lose the game, and on the car ride home, Sanders' father asked him why he didn't catch the punts. Barry told him he didn't want to cause his team to lose the game.

According to Barry's Hall of Fame induction speech, William Sanders then told him, "Son, you can play the game the way it's supposed to be played. Don't be scared to make mistakes. In life, you're going to make some mistakes…Go out and play the way you're capable of, the coach has you in there for a reason, he has confidence in you." 

From that point on, Sanders played without fear of failure. That allowed him to defy convention and make some of the most spectacular plays in football history.

Sanders is one of just eight players to win both a Heisman Trophy and an NFL MVP award.

Photo Credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images


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