Union standout Sanborn remembers the time he almost gave up on the sport he will continue to play in college

All-State QB to sign Feb. 5 with Division 2 Springfield, Mass. school American International College

Andrew Sanborn remembers quite well the time he almost gave up on football.
“I was about to actually quit football before middle school,” Sanborn recalled. “I didn’t really have a good experience in my Pop Warner at quarterback, you always run the ball and it really wasn’t that fun.
“Then a friend of mine called me up one day and said we need a quarterback. I went over there and tried it and I said, listen, if I don’t like it I’m not doing it.
“I ended up loving it. I had a great season that year and then in 8th grade we had an even better season. It just started rolling from there.”
“I’m a baseball guy myself and I saw in Pop Warner that he wasn’t really enjoying himself playing football,” said his father Craig Sanborn. “It wasn’t really until, I think, during the 8th grade season that that changed. By the time of his sophomore year playing quarterback he began to really put football over baseball.”
Fast forward four years later and the Union senior will sign a national letter-of-intent next Wednesday, Feb. 5, to play football at American International College.
Also an accomplished right-handed pitcher and leadoff batter, it was in middle school when Sanborn said he “made that transition” of putting football over baseball as far as the sport he most wanted to make an impact – and eventually continue playing at the next level.
Despite a 5-10 frame possibly suited better for baseball, Sanborn continued to excel under center as a three-year starter for the Union Farmers. This past season he led the Farmers to their first state championship since 1993 and Union to its first-ever 12-0 record.
He is the only quarterback AIC recruited in its 2020 Class.
“I don’t care what anyone says, we just had one of the best quarterbacks in the history of New Jersey play for us the last three years,” Union head coach Lou Grasso, Jr. said.
Here’s how the verbal commitment to AIC transpired Friday, with Sanborn explaining: “I woke up a little bit earlier than I usually do and I checked my phone and I saw a text from my father (Craig) and he was basically telling me that he thought I should make a move and if this is really what I want I should move on it.
“I took the time to think about it in the morning. Eventually later that day I called coach (Dan) Hicks and coach (Kristopher) Kulzer and I told them I wanted to go there.”
Why?
“They showed a lot of interest in me,” Sanborn continued. “They didn’t care of the fact that I’m undersized. They saw my true talent.
“When I went up there for my official visit, it just felt like home, like I could see myself there. The players, the coaches and even some of the students, they were all welcoming. I really liked that.
“I liked the school when I went up there. They also have my major, which is physical education.”
Hicks, wide receivers coach, was Sanborn’s main recruiter. Kulzer is succeeding longtime head coach Art Wilkins.
The Division 2 school, located near the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Museum in Springfield, Mass., offered Sanborn about a month ago.
Here was an opportunity to shun the critics who said he might not be tall enough to become a scholarship quarterback despite earning the state’s Offensive Player of the Year award this year after becoming one of less than 10 QBs in state history to pass for more than 7,000 career yards.
“When he told me Friday, ‘dad, I’m doing this,’ I was really happy,” his father Craig said. “It was getting longer in the process and I let him know that I thought he should be seriously thinking about making a decision sooner than later.”
Here’s what Sanborn’s thought process was Thursday night: “I wasn’t really thinking about making a decision. AIC did not pressure me, which was also one of the things I liked about the school.
“I wanted to know where I was going after high school, settle down and have a plan. I laid it down and talked about it with my family and (AIC) turned out to be the best place for me.”
Here’s what Sanborn’s initial goals are for freshman season: “in my mind I know I can go there and earn that starting spot. That’s what I’m going to go there and try to do.”
Here’s what he had to offer about several other topics discussed:
On baseball: “I always had a love for baseball ever since I was little, that was the first sport that I really ever played. I’ve always been pretty good at it so it was something I kept playing. I always had a passion for it too. If I could, maybe, if it’s a possibility when I get there, maybe I could try to play both. My head right now is on football.”
On three years as starting quarterback for the Union Farmers: “Amazing. It was fun and an exciting experience and something that I’ll never, ever forget.”
On his No. 1 goal his sophomore year when he became the starting quarterback: “I didn’t think long term goals at that point. It was just to get better every day and each and every game. After practices when everybody went home I would stay there with my QB coach Jimmy Melody for 30 minutes to an hour. On the board we would go over defenses and over the plays. It was not only physical reps on the field, but mental reps in the fieldhouse. That was very important.”
On winning a state championship: “I wouldn’t say there was pressure, but expectations. Especially my grade, we knew we had one year left. From my freshman year we had it to achieve that goal. We came close my junior year, so we knew we had to go out with a bang and that’s what we did.”
On not winning the Ridgewood game after the joy of winning a state championship: “It will always be there in the back of my head, wanting to win that game and how well at times we did play offensively. It was a great experience to play there (at MetLife).”
There’s no doubt Sanborn’s ability on the field lifted the fortunes of the Union Farmers mightily and ultimately brought them to a place they had not reached for just over a quarter of a century.
“He loves getting everyone, the crowd, out there,” his dad said in closing. “Year after year the crowds grew, culminating with the state championship.
“He’s so aware of what’s around him. His ability, his awareness of when to step up and when to get out. He never took unnecessary hits. That’s something instinctual. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
This week Sanborn was honored as one of New Jersey’s best players by the Maxwell Football Club. Next week will be his college signing. The proud moments continue for Andrew Sanborn.

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