On the day Timothy Flanders became Sam Houston State's all-time leading rusher, it took just two rush attempts for him to break for a 40-yard score, extending his career touchdown record as well.

Flanders has been successful since he came to Sam Houston in 2010 when he was the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year. But even when he was looking for a school to transfer from Kansas State and former Bearkats offensive line coach Derek Warehime told Flanders he could be an All-American at SHSU, the young running back didn't believe him.

Then, Flanders' freshman season exceeded expectations and there was no way for him to anticipate what happened in 2011.

"I didn't think that it was going to be like this," Flanders said Saturday after the Bearkats' 54-7 season opening win against Incarnate Word.

It's been six All-America squads, including American Football Coaches Association and Associated Press, seventh in voting for the Walter Payton award, Southland Conference Player of the Year and first team All-Southland Conference.

Flanders also set the Southland Conference single season records for touchdowns (24), points (144) and rushing yards (1,644) in 2011.  Even if he is a shell of himself this season, which is unlikely, Flanders is cemented in SHSU history.

After Saturday's game, Flanders downplayed how much he had been thinking about the record because focus had to be set on the game.

But once the record was his, Flanders thanked all of the offensive lineman, quarterback Brian Bell, the receivers he could find and said he still needs to thank the entire defense for getting him good field position.

Flanders may not have been focused on the record, but he was aware of the situation.
"I knew I was like 97 yards away," Flanders said. "The coaches knew it. I just wanted to come out here and be aggressive. I think on the very first play of the game, I could've broken it but I don't know what happened. The first guy doesn't usually tackle me, but he got me on that one. I thought I was going to break it.

 But the second play of the game, it was pretty much the same thing. It came down to one person, I broke the tackle and I scored the touchdown."

Fans may notice a more confident player in Flanders this season. Not that he ever lacked confidence, but the team going from all the accolades last season to ultimately losing the game that meant most has given the Bearkats extra motivation.

So, what kind of impact did 2011 have on Flanders as a player?

"It boosted my momentum up," he said. "My confidence went way up from what it was last year. I think one of the things that stuck to me was after the national championship game was over with, I didn't just walk off the field.

"I mean, I sat there and watched North Dakota State get the trophy and celebrate on the field, because I told myself this is what I want to be doing next year."

Sam Houston State travels to Waco Saturday to face the Baylor Bears. Flander's first carry as a Bearkat was at Floyd Casey Stadium two years ago -- a week after he had enrolled at Sam Houston as a transfer from Kansas State.

Flanders broke a 31-yard gain on that carry with three minutes left in the game. The rest is history.

Tickets for the Baylor game, the "Battle of the Piney Woods" with SFA in Houston at Reliant Stadium Oct. 6 and the remaining two home SHSU games at Bowers Stadium are on sale now online at www.gobearkats.com/tickets .

The Sam Houston State athletic ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ticket office telephone is (936) 294-1729.