As an incoming Indiana freshman setting up his class schedule five years ago, former Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin star receiver Jeff Sanders couldn't take one particular class. The problem: the class would give tests on Saturday. "I'm going to be catching touchdown passes on Saturdays,'' Sanders told his adviser. Years later, Sanders is a fifth-year senior with the Hoosiers. He has no touchdown catches, but the former tight end and center is the starting long snapper.

As an incoming Indiana freshman setting up his class schedule five years ago, former Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin star receiver Jeff Sanders couldn't take one particular class. The problem: the class would give tests on Saturday.

"I'm going to be catching touchdown passes on Saturdays,'' Sanders told his adviser.

Years later, Sanders is a fifth-year senior with the Hoosiers. He has no touchdown catches, but the former tight end and center is the starting long snapper when Indiana (4-2 overall, 0-2 in the Big Ten) plays at Illinois (3-3, 1-2) on Saturday (11 a.m., Big Ten Network). This wasn't the job description planned by Sanders.

"It wasn't my dream when I came in,'' Sanders said. "It's been a dream since I've been here.''

Rated as the 20th best prospect in the state as a prep senior, Sanders caught 59 passes for 671 yards and three touchdowns to help SHG to the Class 5A title in 2005. In the 28-21 win over Rock Island Alleman in the state championship game, Sanders finished with 10 catches for 134 yards and the game's first touchdown.

A two-time academic all-Big Ten pick, Sanders graduated in finance and accounting, and he will earn a master's degree in information systems in May. Sanders already has a job with KPMG, one of the top four accounting firms, in Chicago beginning next summer. On the field, he took a different route than expected.

Long snapping "definitely wasn't my plan when I came here,'' Sanders. said. "I was playing tight end and wide receiver at SHG. I thought I'd be doing the same thing here.''

Sanders moved from tight end to offensive line at the end of his freshman year because of a lack of speed, he said, then bounced back to tight end. By his sophomore season, he was long snapping on field goals and extra points. Sanders handles those duties plus picked up snapping on punts this season.

He actually had experience long snapping at SHG, when "it wasn't a science but kind of throw it back and hope,'' he said. Under coach Ken Leonard, the Cyclones also used a pole cat formation, where Sanders snapped the ball from the end of the offensive line.

"Somehow it made me an eligible receiver,'' said Sanders.

He chose the Hoosiers over Northern Illinois during the tenure of the late Terry Hoeppner.

"He came in as a tight end, and that didn't work out,'' Indiana coach Bill Lynch said. "We tried to move him to the offensive line and get him bigger. That didn't work out. He wanted to find a way on the field. He's been outstanding for us in the first six weeks of the season.''

Defensive lineman Marlandez Harris is another SHG product at Indiana. The freshman is redshirting this season.

Indiana features quarterback Ben Chappell, who leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the nation with 1,858 yards passing. He's thrown 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions, but the season could come down to how well Indiana plays on defense. Indiana ranks ninth in the Big Ten and 89th nationally by allowing 400.7 yards per game.

"I don't think there's any magic to it,'' Lynch said. "We have to play good, sound football.''

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.

A look at Indiana
Record: 4-2 overall, 0-2 in the Big Ten.
So far: Defeated Towson 51-17, def. Western Kentucky 38-21, def. Akron 35-20, lost to Michigan 42-35, lost to Ohio State 38-10, def. Arkansas State 36-34.
Coach: Bill Lynch, 18-25 in fourth year at Indiana, 99-92-3 in 18th year overall.
Players to watch: QB Ben Chappell, WR Damario Belcher, WR Tandon Doss, WR Terrance Turner, LB Leon Beckum.
Did you know? Indiana's only Rose Bowl berth came after winning the Big Ten title in 1967.
Quote: "We have to finish games. That game against Michigan. They finished better than we did.'' -- Indiana coach Bill Lynch, on the Wolverines scoring the winning TD with 17 seconds left.