Donovan Sanders Chooses Penn State

Donovan Sanders will be headed to Happy Valley in the fall, as one of the state and nation's top unsigned seniors has signed with Penn State University.

Sanders, of Girard College, chose the Nittany Lions over a host of schools that included North Carolina A&T, South Carolina State, Iowa, Memphis, Auburn, and Purdue, among others. He his official decision via Instagram Live.

"There were a lot of schools in the running," Sanders said. "But from my first interaction with Penn State my eleventh grade year with Coach Tucker, it just felt right. It felt normal. It felt like he had been coaching me for years."

Sanders added he feels the atmosphere at Penn State with a young crop of sprinters will allow him to improve at the next level.

The senior has been steadily rising the sprint ranks of Pennsylvania and beyond the past few seasons. After earning a pair of fourth place finishes at the PIAA State Championships in AA as a sophomore, Sanders enjoyed a strong junior season that saw him a take a close second place finish in the 400 meters at the state meet in Class AA in a PR of 48.08. He holds an 200 meter PR of 22.06.

It was a terrific senior indoor season for Sanders. He won the PTFCA indoor state title in the 200 meters, clocking a personal best of 21.51 (US No. 11) at his future home track at Penn State for the victory. That came after he took a close second in the 400 meters to recent Oklahoma signee Salim Epps, running a PR of 48.36 (US No. 14). Sanders ran a 300 meter best of 33.98 (US No. 5) to take second at the Millrose Games this past winter. Sanders would have been the top AA outdoor returner in the 400 meters in Pennsylvania.

It was set to be a big end to the indoor season and a strong outdoor campaign for Sanders before the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancelation of both.

"When the word got out that indoor nationals was cancelled, it crushed me," Sanders said. "I've been working all year, finally getting the times I needed to hit. I was ready to drop something crazy at indoor nationals."

While he is disappointed with the cancelation of the outdoor season, Sanders is focused on the future.

"Words can't explain how it felt," he said when he got the news. "It's God's work and everything will fall into place eventually. I'm in the position right now where I can attend Penn State for the next four years and I can do big things up there and not really worry about what happened in the past."

Sanders isn't the first Girard sprinter in recent memory to commit to a big school. Last year, his classmate Thelma Davies, an state record-setter in the 100 and 200 signed with LSU.

"It was very motivating to go see these big schools. It motivated me throughout my entire junior season to work harder and harder to get where she is now," Sanders said.

Watch an interview with Sanders after his 200 meter indoor state title below: