Returning to the same position battle for the second consecutive year, Geraud Sanders knew he had to change something.
So he changed his body.
The junior receiver — who for the second straight year will compete with seniors Marcus Bennett and Jake Matkovich for playing time — punctuated his offseason training with a three-week stint in Plano, Texas, working out at Crull Fitness.
Each day he would run hills, push sleds, lift weights and high-knee and sprint through cone drills along with others, including Georgia safety J.R. Reed.
The result was he added 60 pounds to his bench press, clocked a 4.4-second 40-meter dash, improved his max squat to over 400 pounds and inched his body weight up to about 215 on his 6-foot-3 frame.
“I can 100 percent feel a difference,” Sanders said. “I’m definitely at a higher level than I was last year. Ready to take it on the field and get ready for the Sept. 1 game.”
Bennett edged forward last year in the battle for snaps at receiver as the same three sought to fill the large void left by Jalen Robinette’s departure. Bennett finished with 19 catches for 403 yards and three touchdowns. Sanders gained 204 yards, with three of his nine receptions going for touchdowns. Matkovich had one catch for 18 yards.
The competition will be no easier for any of them. Bennett continues to show a knack for getting open and catching everything thrown his way. Matkovich is still a towering threat at 6-5.
Freshman David Cormier has also turned heads in practice at 6-3, 220 and with a background as multisport star in high school.
So Sanders knew he had to be proactive if he was going to jump the line and be the one targeted most often on the few balls Air Force throws.
“Geraud is a junior and a lot of guys around here grow up when they become juniors,” offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen said. “We’ve seen that a little bit so far in practice. We haven’t had a ton to look at yet, but we’re hoping that’s the case. We’ve got three guys we’re confident in.”
Added coach Troy Calhoun about the work Sanders has put in, “It tells you something. It’s important to him. Guys that it means something to, those guys have a way of being really good contributors and helping your team on game day.”
For Sanders, the process of changing his body was interesting on several levels. His goal after graduating with a degree in economics is to attend medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon – an ambition he’s held since elementary school.
The economics training will come into play as he helps his money go to work for him and eventually open his own practice.
“I can’t sit at a desk all day, personally,” he said. “I have to get out and about.”
Yep, he demonstrated that inability to sit still this past offseason. Now Air Force will see if it pays dividends on the field.