UNION -- Amid the chaos of the epic on-field party after defeating Clifton to win the North 2, Group 5 state sectional championship this past November, all-time great Union quarterback Andrew Sanborn and lineman Jared Durand could be seen sharing a moment together near the 50-yard line.
Overtaken by a wave of emotions, the fellow seniors hugged and celebrated while seemingly the entire town did the same on the turf of Cooke Memorial Field.
"I will always protect you," Durand said to his quarterback at one point, crying tears of joy. Durand was the senior leader of a stellar Union offensive line that allowed Sanborn to enjoy arguably the greatest season a New Jersey quarterback has ever had. And now, after tremendous careers in Union, the two will embark on four more years together at the next level.
Sanborn and Durand both signed a National Letter of Intent to Division II American International College Wednesday morning in the library at Union High School. The two will appear to be in great position to compete for starting jobs at their respective positions right away at the Springfield, Massachusetts-based liberal arts college under interim head coach Kristofer Kulzer.
The Yellowjackets, who compete in the NE10 Conference, have a heavy New Jersey influence on their roster, in large part due to Assistant Coach Dan Hicks, who focuses on recruiting the New Jersey area, per AIC's official website. Hicks took the job at AIC this summer after serving as the head coach at nearby Harrison High School, and was specifically instrumental in the recruiting of Sanborn, evident on Twitter posts from both parties.
Sanborn was regarded by many as the best quarterback in the state of New Jersey and will forever go down as one of the greatest football players in Union’s rich history. However, despite proving himself game-in and game-out, Sanborn fell victim to under recruitment as a result of his 5-foot-11 height. Despite putting up Division I numbers (Over 7,000 career passing yards over three years as the starting QB, for one), Sanborn’s options were limited to Div. II offers from AIC and New Mexico Highlands.
Sanborn racked up 2,902 passing yards this year alone, throwing 27 touchdowns with just four interceptions and a 66 percent (164-for-246) completion rate. There haven’t been many better seasons by a quarterback in New Jersey history, and it’s hard to think of where Sanborn would be without the help of his offensive line.
The leader of that offensive lineman unit was left tackle Jared Durand, who had a host of schools to chose from once the season ended. Durand (6-foot-2, 285 pounds), chose AIC after narrowing down his offers to a final five of Franklin Pierce, William Penn, Southern Connecticut, and East Stroudsburg.
Sanborn and Durand are the second and third Farmers to sign football letters of intent this year. Wide receiver Ahmirr Robinson signed to Rutgers back in December. It is highly anticipated that Union will have more football players sign later in the school year.