Why is Ahmad Gardner's nickname 'Sauce' as CB enters NFL Draft?

Joshua Rogers April 28, 2022
Why is Ahmad Gardner's nickname 'Sauce' as CB enters NFL Draft?
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cincinnati cornerback recently declared for the 2022 NFL Draft after a historic three years with the Bearcats. But why is Ahmad Gardner’s nickname ‘Sauce’, and where did the name come from?

Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner is a cornerback for the Cincinnati Bearcats having attended Martin Luther King High School in Detroit, Michigan. He later committed to the University of Cincinnati to play college football, where he had a historic three years.

Gardner led the program to two AAC championships and a College Football Playoff appearance, and is projected as a first-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. According to Yahoo Sports! he has the potential to end up in the top 15 in the class.

Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner declares for 2022 NFL draft

On Tuesday, 4 January 2022, Gardner revealed he was leaving school early to declare for the 2022 NFL draft.

“Thank you for your support these last three years,” Gardner said on Twitter. “You are the best fans in the world and I will always cherish the memories I have of going undefeated at Nippert Stadium and playing on the biggest stages with you cheering me on.” 

“I talked things over with my family,” Gardner told Yahoo Sports. “My work at Cincinnati is done. I came in and did everything I was supposed to do. I listened to everything the coaches were telling me to do to get in a better position to take care of my family.”

Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Why is Ahmad Gardner’s nickname ‘Sauce’?

With high expectations for the cornerback, many fans wanted to know why Ahmad Gardner’s nickname is ‘Sauce’. Gardner actually picked up the ‘Sauce’ nickname when he was six years old from youth sports coach Curtez Harris, aka Coach Tez.

Coach Tez was well known in Gardner’s native Detroit and noticed the youngster’s athletic prowess from an early age. He would tell him: “To be the man, you have to inherit this sauce.”

Gardner was initially given the nickname A1. However, when Coach Tez complimented one of Gardner’s cut-back moves while playing for the East Side Bengals, he called him: “A1 Sauce Sweet Feet Gardner.” Ahmad reportedly loved the nickname, and eventually shortened it to ‘Sauce’. “That kid’s name rung bells,” Coach Tez said. “He brought excitement and fire to the game.”

The name has stuck, and Gardner even wears a huge chain with “Sauce” on it:

Gardner’s college career in more detail

The 6ft 3in, 200lb CB had a storied run in Cincinnati. During his time there he emerged as one of the top corners in the 2022 class, despite being rated the No. 1,672 prospect in the 2019 recruiting class. Ahmad became an all-conference player and later an All-American. He led the team to two AAC championships and a College Football Playoff appearance.

What’s even more impressive is that in more than 1,000 career snaps in coverage, Gardner never gave up a touchdown.

Per CBS Sports, Gardner posted 99 tackles, 16 passes defended and nine interceptions in his three years with the Bearcats, and allowed just 712 total receiving yards on 138 career targets. Cincinnati went 33-5 with Gardner, winning 22 straight games before losing 27-6 to No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff semi-final.

Where do you think Sauce will be drafted? Let us know in the comments!

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.