Lannden Zanders is a self-ascribed grandma’s boy. After games in high school his grandmother would have a pan of mac ‘n cheese waiting for him to fulfill his postgame cravings.
People often compare the Clemson safety’s hair to former Steeler and Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu. But the reason behind Zanders’ long locks dates back to his grandma’s battle with cancer when she lost her hair.
Now, Zanders’ grandma has beaten cancer, but he wants to keep his hair long as a tribute to her throughout cancer awareness month and throughout his college career.
“The first reason I grew my hair is because my grandmother had cancer so I would donate it two or three times when I was younger,” Zanders said. “The plan is to keep it long as long as I play football.”
Zander certainly represented grandma well in the top-ranked Tigers’ 42-17 win over Miami this past Saturday. He finished the game with four tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup, as Clemson shut down the high-flying Hurricanes’ offense.
The month of October is a special time for Zanders’ grandma, as the NFL and others observe cancer awareness month. For the sophomore safety, his hair is the primary way he pays homage to cancer survivors like his grandma.
“It feels good to do this for my grandma especially with it being October. It’s a very important month for her and I always try to contribute but being in college you can only wear pink during certain games,” Zanders said. “So having my hair and keeping it long for her is something I can do for her even though she got her hair back it’s something I’ve always done since high school.”
His grandma was very appreciative of his hair donations in high school and remains thankful to this day when she sees his mane popping out the back of his helmet. Zanders said his grandma still makes some mac ‘n cheese postgame to show her appreciation for her grandson.
“I was a grandma’s boy growing up, so having me do that she was very appreciative, and I wouldn’t take it back for anything,” Zander said.
Clemson returns to action at noon on Saturday as it travels to Atlanta to take on ACC foe Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium.