Welcome to the ninth piece in our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. The aim of these articles is to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February. One team a day will be featured, in order of where they fall in their current MWCConnection ranking. Today looks at Air Force.
9th in MWConnection Recruiting Rankings.
The Falcons got off to a 1-3 start, beating Stony Brook in the opener before losing to FAU, Utah State and Nevada. After that, they more or less alternated wins and losses the rest of the season. They beat destroyed Navy but lost a close one to Army in their rivalry games. All in all, they stayed pretty competitive throughout the season and finished the year 5-7.
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 brought in 57 (!) players during the December Signing Period, but won’t be discussing all of them in this piece, nor in the February breakdown. Instead, we will look at 15-20 of the top recruits they brought in.
Note: For more info on why Air Force can recruit so many players, check out what we were told by beat writer Brent Briggeman last February.
Can’t go as in-depth as other teams, but here are some quick observations about their class. Per 247 sports, they brought in players from at least 17 different states. Texas and California led the way with 8 and 5 players respectfully. Position-wise, they went heavy and offensive and defensive lineman, with at least 10 at each side of the trenches. They also brought in 8 known linebackers.
Looking at their offense, there is a lot to like about Zachary Larrier, who is the type of athlete who will fit in perfectly at quarterback given he already plays in a similar offense. He’ll be completed well by speedy running back JD Kolb and fullback Tyler Brown. The Falcons don’t pass much, but when they do, Xavier Guillory will be a great target at 6’3. Tight end Cade Blum is another big target (6’5) and will factor into blocking as well as receiving. At offensive line, Nathan Peterson leads the way and is arguably the best recruit on this side of the ball. He’s polished enough to play early and will be flanked by some other promising prospects including Luke Hallstrom, Thor Paglialong, and Reece Azam.
Moving over to defense, and starting with the guys on the line. The two headliners here are the twins Demetrius and Desmond Dorceus. It’s easy to see them becoming potential all-conference type of players down the line and were great late gets for the academy. In the middle of the DL, Joe Quillin and Jordan Britton, both of whom bring good size to the position, especially for academy recruits. At linebacker, keep an eye on Clay Randall out of Saguaro, as well as Nasir Rashid and Keegan Smith. Jordan Blakely has nice size at cornerback, which will eventually help them against the bigger MWC wide receivers. Another defensive back, Kaymen St. Junious, was a really nice pick up for the Falcons and projects as a future starter for them in the secondary.
Number who signed in December: 57
Number who will enroll early: None known
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: They’ve secured players all positions, but will certainly add more players.
Again, the road ahead will look a bit different for the Falcons compared to the other teams in the conference. They have secured signings from players at every position. In most cases, multiple players at every position. With that being the case, they don’t necessarily have any “needs” going forward.
That doesn’t mean the work on the recruiting trail is done, however. They’ll still add more players to this class, likely even a few dozen more players. Expect them to take two different approaches to their February additions. First, looking for the top remaining talent in the high school ranks. Getting talented high school players to come to the academy is a struggle at times, but Air Force will always have more open spots than other schools and that gives them an advantage. Secondly, the Falcons can make a pitch to the under-recruited type of players and offer them the opportunity to play D1 football and potentially develop them into solid players. Again, they have time and numbers on their side and can afford to take a flier on a few players with more spots, whereas other teams may not be able to.
Again, expect AFA to add significantly to their numbers, but it likely may not allow them to make a big push in the final MWCConnection recruiting rankings, as they aren’t expected to land the “big name” talent others might.
Coming tomorrow: New Mexico