You might not have recognized him, but Jaumal Bradley walked the sidelines Saturday at North Campus Stadium during Cal State Northridge's 41-27 Big Sky Conference victory over Idaho State.
Maybe it was the sight of Bradley, a senior fullback for the Matadors, in street clothes. Or that he had shed 16 pounds since his last appearance with the team.
Even his coach did a double take.
"I looked at him and I thought, 'Who is that?' " interim Coach Jeff Kearin said.
Indeed, Bradley, hospitalized three days last week because of tonsillitis, changed noticeably. His blue jeans sagged and required an occasional tug to remain around his waist.
"My clothes are a little bit too big for me," said Bradley, 5 feet 10 and listed on the roster as 215 pounds. "Everything's getting big, it seems."
That includes the next few games on Northridge's schedule. Which is why the return of Bradley, who has missed two games and hasn't been in pads in two weeks, is vital to the Matadors, who play four of their next six games on the road.
Kearin said Monday that Bradley is expected to play Saturday, when Northridge (2-2, 1-1 in conference play) travels to Montana to take on the defending conference-champion Grizzlies.
"He looked a lot better [Sunday]," Kearin said. "I have him at No. 1 on the depth chart."
Just how quickly Bradley will return to form remains to be seen. He is expected to resume practicing today. One thing is certain: Bradley, who has rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns, is eager to make strides.
"I'm fine now. I feel much better," Bradley said Saturday. "I don't feel like I'm out of shape, I don't feel weak at all. It's just a mental approach now. My doctor told me to take it slowly. I was in the hospital doing sit-ups. The nurse caught me one time. I was in there with my IV bag, trying to do some agility drills.
"I'm just going to go out there and work like everybody else and work my way back to being competitive. The last time we lined up against Montana, we beat them, so I'm going to go up there with the confidence of, 'Are they ready to play us?' "
The Matadors defeated Montana, 21-7, last season at Northridge.
Brennen Swanson's 2 1/2 sacks against Idaho State gave him the Northridge career record with 22. Swanson, a senior linebacker, broke Dan Lazarovits' mark of 20 during the first half. The sacks were the first for Swanson since a season-opening victory over Western Oregon on Sept. 4. . . . Drew Amerson caught eight passes for 103 yards against Idaho State but was held without a touchdown for the first game this season. . . . Cornerback Karalus Doyle ranks third in the Big SKy in interceptions after making his third of the season Saturday.