Honors & Awards
» Nebraska Special Teams Player of the Year (2021)
» Academic All-Big Ten (2020)
» Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll (Fall 2022; Spring 2020, 2022)
» Tom Osborne Citizenship Team (2023)
Phalen Sanford played in every game in 2022, seeing action on both defense and special teams and finishing with a career-high 12 tackles and one blocked punt. He had a career-high two tackles against North Dakota and made a tackle on kickoff coverage against Georgia Southern. Sanford had one solo tackle on defense against No. 6 Oklahoma. He played extensively in the secondary at Purdue, recording a career-high three tackles while also blocking a punt for his first career block. He made two tackles against No. 17 Illinois. Sanford also had two tackles at No. 3 Michigan. He made one tackle on kickoff coverage in the season-ending win at Iowa.
Sanford played in every game during the 2021 season as a key member of Nebraska’s special teams. Following the year, he was named Nebraska’s Special Teams Player of the Year.
Sanford made the first tackle of his career with a stop on kickoff coverage at No. 20 Michigan State. He had a tackle on punt coverage against Purdue and also made a tackle on punt coverage against No. 17 Iowa.
2020 (Covid Season)
Sanford played on special teams in each of the final five games as a sophomore. He also continued to add depth in an experienced Husker secondary.
2019 (Redshirt Freshman)
Sanford did not play in a game in his first season at Nebraska after joining the Huskers as a walk-on transfer from Hastings College.
Before Nebraska (Dundy County-Stratton HS/Hastings College)
Sanford joined the Husker program as a walk-on after spending his freshman year at Hastings College. Sanford redshirted as a member of the Bronco football team while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Sanford demonstrated his athletic ability by competing in numerous track and field events at Hastings, including the heptathlon. He won three event titles as a freshman and qualified for the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships in the high jump, finishing 24th.
In high school, Sanford was a three-sport star for Dundy County-Stratton. On the gridiron, Sanford played eight-man football and was an honorable-mention all-state selection as a junior and a first-team pick as a senior. In the winter, Sanford starred on the basketball court, averaging nearly 16 points per game in his career, including 21.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as a senior. He was a three-time all-state selection, including earning first-team accolades as a junior. In track and field, Sanford was a six-time state champion, winning titles in five different events. He closed his career in grand fashion, winning state titles in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, 400-meter dash and 1,600-meter relay. He set the Class C record in the 300-meter hurdles and contributed to all 40 points Dundy County-Stratton scored as a team in their third-place finish.
Phalen is the son of Brandon and Davina Sanford, and he was born on Dec. 9, 1999. A child, youth and family studies major, Phalen earned his bachelor's degree from Nebraska in December of 2022. He volunteered his time with the Nebraska Football Road Race and local hospital visits.