Isaiah Sanders has quickly emerged as a player you can’t take your eyes off at Air Force spring practice.
The freshman quarterback from Palmer Ridge – just up the road in Monument – is about 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, looks fast and, most of all, has displayed a huge arm. He’s got a smooth, easy throwing motion and the ball just jumps out of his hand.
Physically, Air Force fans will likely conclude that he looks like a slightly skinnier version of Jaleel Awini.
“He’s still a pup,” offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Thiessen said. “He’s got talent.”
This isn’t to suggest Sanders should be expected to push Arion Worthman for the starting position or Nate Romine as the top backup. But depth at that position has proved critical in recent years as only once in the past four years has the quarterback who started the opener also started any of the final five games.
In spring practice the Falcons will begin to establish a pecking order of players who would be in line to get those chances should a move be forced upon them.
“We’ve got a good little freshman class (of quarterbacks),” Thiessen added, noting Dalton Collins and Miller Mosely as well as Sanders. “This is an exciting spring for those guys. You kind of know who Nate and Arion are, even though they’re both going to get better at things, but we’re going to sort out who the rest of them are – just like we found out last year who Arion was.”
Sanders looks like enough of a physical specimen that the question was posed to Thiessen if a move might be considered to another position if he doesn’t emerge as a top three or four quarterback. Remember, Awini became a linebacker at Colorado after leaving Air Force.
Thiessen said that hasn’t been considered at this point.
“He wants to be quarterback and he’s on a good path to be quarterback,” Thiessen said. “We’ll find out. As soon as we take that black jersey off (and quarterbacks are allowed to be hit), we’ll find out.”
Marquis Griffin and Brett Baldwin, in the early going, seem to be the top two cornerbacks. Maybe that’s because both are rising seniors and are getting the most time, but that’s the sense I’m getting both from watching and talking to players. … Kyle Floyd worked with the first-team defense at free safety. He passes the eyeball test in a Jalen Robinette kind of way. The other player I’d lump into that category of emphatically looking the part would be freshman wide receiver Geraud Sanders. … Parker Wilson has run the ball well so far in practice. He’s the obvious frontrunner to take over at fullback. … A name to remember for later is Benjamin Waters. The freshman from Valor Christian in Denver made several tough catches in individual drills on Tuesday. He had 1,033 receiving yards with 16 touchdowns as a senior at Valor. He’s buried at z-receiver right now behind Tyler Williams, Ronald Cleveland and Jake LaCoste (among others), so there’s no clear path for playing time on the immediate horizon. But keep him in mind down the road. I suspect there’s some sneaky ability with him like we’ve seen with Tim McVey in football and Jacob Van in basketball at the academy, and he’ll emerge at a time when nobody expects it. That’s just my hunch.