Some players may be bigger than Raymond Sanders.
Some players may be faster than Raymond Sanders.
But few players can say they know more about football than Kentucky's sophomore running back.
His passion for the game started long before he ever put on pads or rushed for a first down.
Back then as a 7-year-old in Stone Mountain, Ga., his only rushing was around the corner to the local bookstore.
"Mom would take me there and every book I picked out was a football book," Sanders said. "So I just read those three or four times a day, trying to learn the referee calls and different things."
He had other interests, but none could top his thirst for football knowledge.
"I just knew that's what I loved," Sanders said. "My whole family pretty much loves football. We talk football and watch football. ... Basically, I just studied the game and understood the little things."
It's that understanding of the game that has made him so valuable at Kentucky, where the 5-foot-8 player was able to play significant downs as a freshman last season behind star Derrick Locke.
That understanding of the game has helped him be tabbed as one of the top backs in Coach Joker Phillips' system this season.
"Raymond Sanders is one of the sharpest guys we've got on the football team as far as understanding the system," Phillips said on Media Day. "I can remember this time last year when he walked on campus, Locke was just blown away with his knowledge level and how much he knew of the position. He picked it up as fast as anybody I've ever been around."
The back has a quick grasp of some of the most complicated blocking schemes.
"I'm good with the blocking schemes and different fronts," Sanders said. "A lot of people have a tough time knowing who to get when there are different fronts coming at you. That's something I was able to get when I first came in."
Sanders, who had arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his left knee this off-season, didn't sulk about his injury.
He spent his summer rehabbing the knee, which he called "close to 100 percent" and he tried to use any spare time he had to help other players around him.
"This is a tough time for the freshmen coming in, learning the plays," Sanders said. "So I'm glad I'm able to help them learn the plays and figure out the things that will help make them great players here."
Sanders, who rushed for 254 yards and three touchdowns last season as well as catching 16 passes for 114 yards and a score, said he doesn't mind helping the younger players even though they're all fighting for playing time.
"I know what I'm capable of and I know they're great backs and I'm going to help them learn and become great," he said, "but I feel like if I can come out and work every day then I can maintain and contribute to my team."
Sanders doesn't just spend time buried in playbooks; he also spends a lot of time watching film.
"I get in the film room and I take those young guys with me," he said. "It helps you look at your linemen and figure out how to block and different things like that."
He even slips in footage of his childhood idol, Barry Sanders, from time to time.
"I still watch his highlights to figure out the little things he did to become Barry Sanders, you know, the cuts he made and the reads he made."
So far in camp, Sanders has seen light action. Coaches say they're being cautious with him as he continues to get stronger on the surgically repaired knee.
But what they have seen of Sanders has impressed them.
"I lose sleep about a lot of things, but that's not one of them," running backs coach Steve Pardue said. "I plan on (Sanders) being fine."
"He's looked good," the head coach said this week. "The guy's a fighter, a battler. You wouldn't know that he's in any kind of pain. ... When I see him in there I expect him to go full speed and that's what he's done."