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The Recruiting Road So Far: Air Force

The Falcons have a number of commits, but do they fit their system?

NCAA Football: Air Force at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

This is part four of our twelve-part series to kick off the recruiting season. The aim of these articles are to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, what to expect come December 20th, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February.

Air Force: 9th in the MWConnection Recruiting Rankings

After winning 10, 8, and 10 games from 2014-2016, the Falcons lost the core of those teams through departing seniors and their 2017 season took a step or two back to the tune of 5-7. After their opening massacre of VMI (who went winless), they lost four straight games. Granted, three of those four games were close losses to Michigan, SDSU, and Navy. They followed that with three straight wins, including beating Colorado State. Continuing their up and down ways, they got shut out the very next game by Army, dropped two more against the Cowboys and Broncos, then closed their season out by beating Utah State.

Offensively, they are the other triple option team in the conference. Although people have said there are some differences in the way they run their schemes, they are basically looking at the same type of as described with New Mexico. A QB who can run and read defenses well enough to decide where the ball should go, a big bruising full-back who can pick up positive yards consistently, running backs with speed on the outside, and linemen who excel in run-blocking as well as athletic enough to pull and get into the second level for blocks.

On the defensive side of the ball, in what is becoming the theme of the conference so far, they run a 3-4 base scheme. In case you haven’t been reading each day, this calls for: oversized players on the DL across the board, athletic and speedy players at LB (especially the OLB rush/coverage positions), and trust in the secondary to handle coverage while the front seven often focuses on pressuring the quarterback.

The Road So Far:

Air Force has some unique factors when it comes to them recruiting players. As an academy school, they need to identify players who want to or are willing to go into military service upon graduation. In addition to this, or because of this, running the triple option scheme leads to them targeting certain types of players who fit their system. At this point, it has led them to 15 verbal commitments (according to the 247 website) and while their class would not be mistaken for a “top class” in the nation, it really isn’t their goal. With Air Force, it’s more important to look at how their class fits their system.

There is a lot to like about this class. Starting with the quarterback, Max Massingale appears to be a great fit for their system as a dual-threat signal-caller out of powerhouse high school program Saguaro. He knows how to win and how to play the position. The usual trend for Falcon OL players is that they are undersized; this is not the case in their 2018 class. The trio of Jackson McDowell, Noah Gunn, and Cole Garcia weigh in at 280, 290, and 318 respectively. McDowell is a solid run-blocker who finishes plays and could play guard or tackle. Similarly, Gunn projects to be a guard who is very mobile and will likely end up drawing pulling and stretching assignments for their runs. WR Ryan Hayden has great size for when they do go to the passing game and Carter Kuehl is a bit undersized, but could develop into a nice change-of-pace back to keep the opposition honest. Throw in two Tight Ends (Alex Luedeke and Josh Lifson) and their future offense is coming together nicely.

Moving to the other side of the ball, there are five verbal commits at this point. CB Austin Deason and DE Michael Riege appear to be the standouts, while Kolby Hauser is an under the radar type who could end up being a sleeper in this class. The defense is balanced out by three linebackers with nice size: Braxton Whitney, Chase Chandler and Patrick Atkinson. Newest commit (late last night) Gary Mossop is a hard-hitting and sure-tackling safety who will boost the secondary. Perhaps the most intriguing player is recent commit David Eure, who is being recruiting primarily as a CB but could possibly moving to running back once on campus. With his speed and physicality, he figures to make an impact on whatever side of the ball he ends up playing.

Number Expected to Sign in December: 3 recruits have confirmed they will sign early. One recruit who plans to sign in February said “coaches put no pressure on me to sign early.”

Number Expected to Enroll Early: None of the members of this class have confirmed they are enrolling early.

Top Targets Remaining:

WR Trajen Johnson, WR DeMonte Horton, OL Nicolas Sligh, S Zaire Webb, RB Anthony Ballard, DE Logan Jessup.

The Road Ahead:

The official roster on the Air Force website lists a whopping 32 seniors on their roster! While it is unclear if all of those players were on scholarship, it does lead to the speculation that the Falcons will be able to take a full class of 25 players in this recruiting cycle.

Their best case scenario would be to lock up another ball-carrier or two (whether that’s a FB or true RB, they can never have too many) and one of the two WRs listed above. More DL players need to emerge on the radar, particularly on the interior of the defensive line. Landing Sligh would top off a very nice OL class, while Webb would do the same for their secondary.

Overall, the Falcons have a nice foundation for their class currently, with players who fit their system well. They have the numbers in this class to continue to add players and can even take a risk or two if they so choose. However, RB and DL are the priority going forward and perhaps even vital to allowing this recruiting class to end up a positive one.

Up Tomorrow: Hawaii

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