Running back Barry Sanders is Scripps Howard's football player of the year.

The Oklahoma State junior, favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, got the most votes from the national panel of sports writers who rate the top 20 football teams each week for Scripps Howard News Service.In the all-America backfield with Sanders are Southern Cal quarterback Rodney Peete and Georgia tailback Tim Worley. Wide receivers are Hart Lee Dykes of Oklahoma State and Jason Phillips of Houston.

The all-America defense is led by Auburn defensive tackle Tracy Rocker. Florida State defensive back Deion Sanders ran a close second in the voting. Brigham Young University's Pat Thompson was named to the team as the punter.

West Virginia's Don Nehlen is the Scripps Howard coach of the year. He won a close race with Notre Dame's Lou Holtz and Texas-El Paso's Bob Stull.