QB Giovanni Sanders has had a very interesting career to get where he is today. He has taken the path less traveled to get to the IFL, moving up the levels year after year. A veteran of the AAL, AWFC, and CIF, Sanders has had to battle with other players at every stop to prove himself before moving up. Somehow, this path seems fitting, a unique road, for a unique athlete. There are dual threat quarterbacks, and then there is Giovanni Sanders.
Starting as a Wide Receiver
Having attended Santa Barbara City College Sanders was asked to play wide receiver. In 8 games he put up an impressive 15 receptions for 287 yards and 4 touchdowns, adding 1 pass attempt that he completed for 34 yards and a touchdown, and 1 carry for 3 yards and 1 touchdown. Ending the season with just 17 touches for 324 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season.
This might surprise some, but Sanders was always destined for a career as a quarterback. Blessed with the ability to be a leader amongst men, Sanders is one of those guys you just want to go to war for. Given his experience in many different arena football leagues, Sanders has a voice in any locker room, and when he speaks his teammates tend to listen. This wasn’t lost on his previous coaching staffs as they allowed him to finally play the position he had always been meant for…quarterback.
Let’s Go to Work
Given the opportunity to play quarterback, Sanders has never looked back. Sanders was signed in 2019 to play for the New England Bobcats. The Bobcats were in the American Arena League at the time. However, this league and its teams were fighting significant issues at the time.
Unfortunately for Sanders, and the rest of the Bobcats players, the team folded midseason in 2019. This would ultimately not be the last time Sanders would experience this in the indoor football world. Luckily for Sanders, he latched on with the Idaho Horsemen. The Horsemen and their owner Chris Reynolds formed their own league in an attempt to take their entire team to the next level. After several seasons the AWFC has become a stand-alone league gaining traction and sending players to larger leagues every year.
Unfortunately due to the Pandemic, the AWFC like many football leagues were forced to cancel their 2020 season. Leaving players away from the game for a full calendar year until they returned for the 2021 season. When Sanders stepped on the field for the Horsemen, he quickly proved himself worthy.
Sanders would play multiple positions for the Horsemen. He saw time as a receiver, runner, and passer. He attempted 70 passes completing 32 of them while tossing 7 TDS, and 6 ints. Accounting for 443 passing yards, he added 19 carries for 91 yards and 1 touchdown, as well as 6 receptions for 88 yards and 3 touchdowns. Overall he would account for a total of 622 yards, and 11 touchdowns in ten games.
Sanders truly showcased just how versatile he could be for the Horsemen. Having started the year playing running back, and not quarterback, it was only a matter of time before the Horsemen wanted the ball in Sanders’s hands every play. Ultimately this season would culminate in a 6-4 record and a championship run.
Unfortunately for Sanders and the Horsemen, they would fall to the Tri-City Rush, and head coach Brandon Tate. The final score was 36-27. This would mark the first victory by the Rush in what became back-to-back Championships for the AWFC. The Horsemen however would lose Sanders for the following season.
CIF Comes Calling
The Southwest Kansas Storm came looking for a new quarterback, and Sanders had caught their eye with his triple-threat performance for the Horsemen the season before. They brought him in as their starting quarterback. He would go on to play in 8 games, again helping his team as a passer, runner, and receiver.
He would go on to complete 51.8% of his passes collecting 607 yards, 15 TDS to just 12 ints. He added 46 carries for 201 yards and 5 touchdowns. This was good enough for second on the team, behind only George Moreira who had 98 carries for 304 yards. Sanders also caught 2 passes for 14 yards and 1 touchdown. Leading his team to a 6-2 record.
IFL Likes What They See
After clinching a playoff berth in the CIF, Sanders would receive interest from the IFL’s Bismarck Bucks. The Bismarck Bucks needed help at quarterback after some injuries. Sanders would come in and play in 5 games. Attempting 86 passes he completed 48 of them for 481 yards 5 TDS, and 5 interceptions on the season. The Dual-Threat QB added 37 carries for 117 yards and 8 more touchdowns.
For those keeping track at home, Sanders played in 13 total games, throwing 20 touchdowns, to 17 interceptions, racking up 1,088 yards, adding 83 carries for 318 yards, and 13 more touchdowns on the ground, but didn’t stop there adding 2 receptions for 14 yards and 1 more touchdown. This means he accounted for 1,420 yards, 34 touchdowns, to just 17 turnovers. Despite this performance in 2022, the Bucks announced after the 2022 season that they would be forced to pause for the 2023 season.
This led to the release of all their players. Several Players signed nearly right away. Sanders was one of those players. He inked a deal with the Las Vegas Knights. Sticking with the IFL, Sanders has a chance to potentially seize the starting job for the Knights, start a full season for the IFL in 2023 and show them what he is capable of at this level.
What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas
The Knights are certainly hoping Sanders can reproduce the 2022 season he had, or even improve on it given the opportunity to start. Last season, the Knights played six different quarterbacks, none of which managed to set themselves apart from the pack. Tyrone Williams was also brought in this offseason. This leaves the Knight Hawks with Cameron Dukes returning, with three quarterbacks on the roster.
It appears that Dukes will get the first chance to win the job, but after the way the position worked out in 2022, the Knight Hawks would be smart to consider all options for their long-term future at the position. In my eyes, Sanders is likely the player with the highest ceiling at the position, given his abilities to play other positions in a pinch as well he has never truly been given a chance to focus on quarterback alone. If Vegas gives him this opportunity in 2023, they could find their long-term answer at quarterback. After all…what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…