The Falcons have again launched an early spring practice camp, as they did last year. Coach Calhoun likes to allow his players plenty of time at the back end of the semester for test study and class projects. All turnbacks who took the fall semester off have returned for the camp.
A new (returning) coach has joined the coaching team, and his arrival erased any worries Falcon fans may have had when Running Backs/Special Teams coach Ben Miller departed for a job in the Big 10. Tim Horton comes to the Falcons from Vanderbilt, where he also served as running backs coach. He has made a long career out of coaching running backs, and this is his second stint at the Academy. His first tour was from 1999-2005 under Fisher DeBerry. He went to Kansas State for one year and then spent the next 19 in the SEC with Arkansas, Auburn, and Vanderbilt. He has coached 13 players that have started in the NFL, including Kerryon Johnson, Darren McFadden, and Payton Barber. One of the all-time best running backs at Air Force, Chad Hall, arrived at the Academy under Horton’s tutelage. The Falcon’s have knocked it out of the park with this hire. The Falcons are fortunate that Vanderbilt fired their head coach this year and Horton was ready to leave.
Speaking of running backs, with the start of spring ball, the Falcons are testing out options to replace departed starters, and the key tailback position is open with the departure of Kade Remsberg. Word is that Brad Roberts is possibly switching from fullback to the tailback position. Some of you might remember a few years back Jacoby Owens made the opposite switch from tailback to fullback and was successful at both positions. Roberts appears to have the talent to be a tailback, with the only question being whether or not he has the speed to successfully get to the edge on the pitch outs. That would leave the fullback position open. Freshman Elija Robinson looked good in limited action last year, and has a more typical Falcon fullback physique. Freshman Jonathan Youngblood had started last year at the fullback position, but was switched to linebacker when the turnbacks left the program. As I said in a previous article, Timothy Jackson has left the program.
It appears that the Academy is shying away from allowing very many more turnbacks for the football team. I believe that George Silvanic and Britton Beasley are still being considered for turnbacks, and they should hear soon. Silvanic seems intent on continuing football activities, as he has also filed for the NCAA transfer portal. If he doesn’t play for the Falcons next fall, he might be able to follow the path of Isaiah Sanders and Joe Scott, who went on to grad school at Stanford and Alabama, respectively, and saw action at those schools.
Coach Calhoun held a press conference the other day, and it was vintage Calhoun. As usual, he complained about how much retooling the Falcons need after the senior class departs. He stated that his team has only 3 returning starters on offense and 3 on defense, and I’ve read some early previews that assume the same facts. But on defense in particular, the Falcons will return many players that have started and seen a good amount of playing time. Calhoun ignored that fact that Demonte Meeks, Jordan Jackson, Tre Bugg, Lakota Wills, and Chris Herrera are starters who took the turnback and return, and every one of them is quite talented. Also, with all the Covid issues, injuries, and missing players, a significant number of younger players got starts and considerable playing experience, namely Corvan Taylor, Alec Mock, Ethan Erickson, David Eure, Johnathan Youngblood, Jayden Goodwin, and Caleb Humphrey. It would be easy to field a defense full of Falcons with starting experience.
The offensive side of the ball is more questionable due to the loss of the entire starting offensive line. The good news is that the skill positions are filled with experience. QB Haaziq Daniels, Kyle Patterson, and Brad Roberts all were starters, and Brandon Lewis may not have started, but regularly rotated in and was one of the two primary receiving threats. The main point is that I don’t believe the narrative from Calhoun and various college football analysts that the Falcons are bereft of good experience. Time will tell if their performance will be good enough to produce a highly successful season.