Bettendorf product Colin Sandeman is 'improving quickly' from an undisclosed injury, according to coach Kirk Ferentz. (John Schultz/Quad-City Times) John Schultz

Colin Sandeman can't believe how quickly four years can go by.

"It's crazy," the Bettendorf-bred Iowa Hawkeyes receiver said. "I still feel like a sophomore. It's kind of unbelievable how fast it has gone. I'm just trying to cherish every practice, every meeting, every moment. This is the last go-around."

As Iowa's primary punt returner a year ago, Sandeman ranked second in the Big Ten Conference and 36th nationally with a 9.0 yards-a-return average.

He is fighting to retain that role and also to increase his time at receiver in Hawkeyes training camp this month.

With 24 career receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns - including 14-for-136 and a TD in last year's Orange Bowl-winning season - Sandeman is listed as a co-No. 1 with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos at split end.

As Iowa's leading receiver the previous three seasons, Johnson-Koulianos would seem to have an edge, but Sandeman has been told jobs are up for grabs, and he plans to compete.

"No one has a safe job," he said. "I take that to every practice, every drill. That's always in the back of my mind."

He also said his experience catching punts will win him that assignment. His was the only name on the depth chart at that position exiting spring drills.

"This is my fourth year catching some significant punts," the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder said. "I feel as comfortable this year as I have ever been."

Sandeman's only goal is to help the Hawks achieve their team ambition, a Big Ten Championship. But he stressed, "What we're thinking about right now is the next practice and then it's on to Eastern Illinois. We're going to take it game-by-game, day-by-day. If we get caught looking ahead, that's where we get in trouble."

Certainly, Sandeman isn't looking beyond this season. He does plan to graduate in May with a degree in entreprenuership and experience in 3D design.

Unlike roommates Jeff Tarpinian and Ricky Stanzi, Sandeman never had the benefit of a redshirt season, so his senior-year class load will keep him busy.

"They keep telling me, ‘Oh, I only have badmitton this year.' I still have like 15 hours of biomedical engineering," he joked.