Welcome to the first post in our twelve-part series that hopefully makes the dead period go by a bit quicker. These articles aim 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 this year in alphabetical order. Today will look at Air Force.
The 2020 season was a roller coaster for Air Force. A big rivalry win followed by a tough conference loss. Then, injuries and Covid hit, forcing games to be cancelled. Without their top offensive performers, they struggled to score. When their OL was healthy, they were a good team, and when they had their OL and top skill players, they were a great team. On defense, there was cause for concern going into the season having to replace all eleven starters. However, the unit developed quickly, and the Falcon defense became one of the strongest in the conference and the nation.
With eligibility rules being adjusted for Covid (although it may not apply to Air Force, the turnbacks do), it’s a bit difficult to know which players are staying or leaving. That makes it a bit harder to understand what specific needs are in the class. That being said, most of the needs will be on the offensive end. They lose critical offensive lineman and will need to bolster to skill positions. To see how they’ve done so far, look below.
The Road So Far:
Air Force brought in 38 known 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 some 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 a few years ago.
Although not as in-depth as other teams, here are some quick observations about their class. Per 247 sports, they have gained commitments (note: not signees) in players from at least 21 different states. Texas, California, Florida, and Washington all had five or more players from their states. More than any other team in the Mountain West, Air Force casts a wide net recruiting players from many different states.
Looking at their offensive signees, there was a significant focus on quarterbacks (3), tight ends (3), and of course, the offensive line (9). Specifically, Alex Moore and Dillon Gilbert appear like talented OL players. Likewise, TJ Urban at QB and Joseph Stellmach at RB are intriguing options for the option. Braylen Fowler is highly rated for a wide receiver going to a triple-option team, so keep an eye on him as a future deep threat and when looking at his tape, try to notice how his blocking skills are.
On defense, the Air Force signees were a bit more balanced by position, but there was still a bit of an emphasis at defensive end and the secondary. Aidan Swartz is a name to keep an eye on at DE, while Cameron Breier will slot in nicely at outside linebacker. In the secondary, Jamal Marshall is highly rated and could develop into a future all-MWC player before his career is over.
Number who signed in December: 50
Number who will enroll early: None (per academy rules)
247 Composite Rankings: 99th
The Road Ahead:
Top Targets Remaining: They’ve secured players all positions and will undoubtedly add more players. However, more depth at RB, DT, and LB wouldn’t hurt.
Going forward, the important part of the Falcon’s recruiting efforts is to keep an eye on how they are finding players to fit their system. They have already done a good job with the offensive and defensive backs. Bolstering the numbers at fullback and running back, both key offensive spots, will be necessary. On the other side of the ball, the Falcon defense will benefit from continuing to address the interior of the defensive line and the linebacker unit. Air Force is always the most challenging class to identify, but more depth never hurts.
Coming tomorrow: Boise State