Anthony LaCoste has a shot at one of the more envied positions in the Mountain West, and he's finally feeling well enough to give it his best effort.
Down to just one clunky knee brace after surgery on both knees in recent years, he's feeling far quicker and looser as he continues to hold onto the first-team spot at tailback for Air Force.
"When I tore my ACL it was a long time before I was right," LaCoste said. "Last year I didn't feel like myself. But now it feels great.
I'm super excited."
In the past six years under coach Troy Calhoun, Air Force has produced three 1,000-yard rushers and has seen its leading runner pile up at least 970 yards all but once. Included were Cody Getz's 1,248-yard breakout season last year and Chad Hall's 1,478 yards in 2007 that led to a career in the NFL and a trip to the 2013 Super Bowl with San Francisco.
Even as Air Force sets itself up for a more versatile offensive attack, those rushing yards figure to be there for someone. And right now it's LaCoste's position provided those knees hold up.
"I think he has very, very good stability," Calhoun said. "I think you can tell when it comes to strength and confidence and movement, he's done good stuff here these first few days."
Because of the injuries and a brief switch to defense last year, LaCoste has little experience at running back in college. He has carried the ball just seven times over the past three years for 15 yards, though he has been a weapon in the return game and even took an interception 47 yards while playing in the defensive secondary.
The senior's top competition for playing time figures to come from junior Jon Lee, but it has been LaCoste who has been first to line up in drills through the spring and into preseason practice.
"It may be a year where we have two or three tailbacks that are involved," Calhoun said. "I think the thing he brings is a powerful lower half. There are guys who might be able to squat really well, but that doesn't always translate very well to being a powerful runner. I think Anthony has good power as a runner."
LaCoste is hoping to add more quickness to go with that power, and part of that will come when the other knee brace is finally removed.
"We'll see," he said. "I'm still working on getting tested out on that one. I'm really excited to have at least one off."
Rushing runs in the family
Even if Anthony LaCoste has a breakout season as Air Force's tailback, he won't likely be the most prolific rusher in his family.
His brother, Jake, is a senior at West Albany High in Oregon and ran for 2,876 yards last year with 38 touchdowns and five games of at least
300 yards. With 4,864 career rushing yards, Jake could climb into the top two or three on the state's all-time list this year, which would mean bumping Anthony and his 6,422 yards out of the No. 5 spot.
Anthony said Jake may follow in his big brother's footsteps and play at Air Force, but that is far from a done deal.
The only bad part of about having two prolific players in separate states is that they rarely get a chance to see each other play.
"He'll watch my games when they're on TV," Anthony said. "But I haven't seen him play other than watching his highlights."