With the calendar recently rolling over to 2020, The Houstonian is taking a look back at one of the greatest Sam Houston State University athletes of last decade: star running back Timothy Flanders.
Flanders is highly regarded as the best SHSU running back in school history. A product of Midwest City High School in Oklahoma, he was a staple of the Bearkats’ program from 2010-2013 after redshirting at Kansas State as a true freshman in 2009.
It did not even take a full season for Flanders to open eyes though. His collegiate career started with an instant bang when he exploded for a 31-yard gain against Baylor to begin his SHSU career.
“It was my very first play,” Flanders said in an exclusive interview with The Houstonian. “That’s crazy. It was the fourth quarter. I cut back and had a big run. I was pretty excited for it, not going to lie.”
His freshman campaign was nothing short of impressive. His conference-leading 948 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 games earned him the honor of Southland Conference Freshman of the Year, and that was just the beginning. The accolades and records continued to pile up in the years to come.
Flanders had a career year in 2011. He garnered the SLC Player of the Year award when he led the conference with 109.6 rushing yards per game. He also set single-season conference records that year for touchdowns (24), points (144) and rushing yards (1,644). On Sept. 24, 2011, Flanders had a mind-blowing, record-setting performance in a crazy 48-45 overtime victory on the road at New Mexico when he rushed for five touchdowns in a single game, and as you might expect he was excited to relive that memory.
“Whoo! I remember that,” Flanders said. “The game was going back and forth. We scored, they scored. We got up, they got up. It was insane.”
He became one of only three athletes to ever win the SLC Player of the Year award in consecutive seasons in 2012 when he had 10 games of over 100 yards on the ground. He also had the longest play of his collegiate career that year with a 71-yard touchdown run in front of almost 7,000 fans at Bowers Stadium on Nov. 3 in a 70-0 blowout of Southeastern Louisiana.
It is impossible to flip through the SHSU record books without seeing his name. He graduated in 2013 with 5,664 yards and 66 touchdowns on 999 carries in his Bearkat career. He also tacked on four receiving touchdowns and 629 yards on 64 career receptions.
“I’m blessed,” Flanders said. “I’m grateful for everything I accomplished at Sam Houston.”
Flanders holds 34 individual school records including career touchdowns, points and rushing yards. He also owns four single-game records and 23 single-season records. He still owns the Southland Conference records for rushing yards and career touchdowns, as well. His statistics are even more impressive considering he battled through an injury during his senior year.
“I hurt my foot [against] Lamar,” Flanders said. “I played the whole season with metal in my foot. I got an invite to the East/West game… and to the NFL Combine. After the season was over, I was on crutches for six weeks. I was going crazy the whole time. I found ways to stay in shape. That’s about all I could do without putting a lot of weight on my foot.”
Despite the injury setback and the “what could have been” possibilities, Flanders’s steady dominance still earned him a career in the Canadian Football League when he signed with the Calgary Stampeders on Mar. 18, 2015. He bounced around the CFL with the BC Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers and even signed NFL contracts with the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns during his career.
Not everything in Flanders’s life centers around football, however. Family is something he considers extremely important.
“I’m a big family guy,” Flanders said. “That’s where I try to spend my time off the field. That’s pretty much it. And I try to go fishing as much as I can.”
In a 2016 article, Blue Bombers writer and director of content Ed Tait wrote about Flanders: “His college numbers got him a look, but it’s his personality that helped him get his foot in the professional football door.”
Most recently, the 5-foot, 9-inch, 205-pound back signed with the Ottawa Redblacks as a free agent on Sept. 30, 2019.