When the Air Force Acadeny lost defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter to Texas last year, everyone was wondering how that would effect player performance on the Falcon defense. Now that the season has ended, the NFL scouts are seeing that it didn't seem to matter to some of the players. While many have outperformed on the field, three of the defensive players have found their names mentioned as NFL draftees. Unfortunately for even those outstanding players, however, the odds of being drafted by the NFL this week are huge.
Only eight players have ever been drafted by the NFL from the Air Force Academy. And the reasons why are not due to a lack of talent. Military recruits have size restraints that prohibit many football players from qualifying for the Falcons, but that explains only a small segment of players. Perhaps the main reason NFL teams seem reluctant to draft a rookie from a military school is having to work around a player's future military status. And then there are the players themselves. Many if not most Air Force cadets would chose their military careers over the iffy prospects of one in the NFL---honor and duty over glitz and glamour---and forego the NFL draft altogether.
But it's not unusual that some seek to have it both ways:
Reggie Rembert, a 5' 7" 180 lb CB, is one of those. As a senior Rembert has emerged as a real NFL draft prospect after he showed up on a few All-American teams last year as a senior. His profile at NFLDraftScout.com has highlighted his many accomplishments. On Pro Day he scored 4:40 on the 40 and had a verticle jump of 41. But no matter how well he scores Rembert knows his military commitment doesn't help his NFL chances. Any NFL team who drafts him would have to keep him on the military/reserve list for two years. It is only after that he would be able convert his last three years of military service into six years of reserve status. Rembert doesn't know if a NFL team will take a chance on him since he won't be able to play for them for a few years. That is the same question a few teams are asking themselves as well.
Andre Morris, Jr., 6' 3" 242 lb OLB, is one of those players to whom it didn't seem to matter to. He's tough and aggressive and smart enought to able to make key plays all on his own. Morris was a playmaker for the Falcon front seven this past year, and was all over the field making key tackles, stopping runs and pressuring quarterbacks. It was partly due to his performance in 2010 that he and several other Air Force athletes are on the NFL radar screens.
Rick Ricketts, 6' 1" 250 lb DE/OLB has been known as an undersized defensive player. But what he has lacked in size, he makes up for with speed and skill. His competitive nature and on-field determination and performance got him named to the All-Mountain West Second Team last year. Ricketts was selected as the All-Mountain West Second Team last year. On Pro Day he did the 40 in 4:79 and that has helped with his Profile.
After this year's Pro Day on the 27th of March, walterfootball.com projected all three of these cadet/players as seventh round picks. But if not chosen, Reggie Rembert might have summed it up best for the cadets when he met with Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs Gazette recently. He would love to play in the NFL, Rembert said, but his military service is also important to him. "I have to serve my country," he stated. "That's what I came to the academy for."