Disclaimer: News is sparse from Falcon spring camp. A few tidbits leaked out, but basically no outsiders were allowed around the practice sessions. Kade Remsberg has graduated, leaving the very important tailback position vacant, but fullback Brad Roberts and slotback/slot receiver Brandon Lewis return armed with impressive performances last season. The primary task for Troy Calhoun and running backs coach Tim Horton will be to find a replacement for the quick/athletic/determined Remsberg.
There has been some talk this spring of moving Roberts to the tailback position, which was his position in high school. This is unlikely because Robert’s skill set matches well with the fullback position. He has good vision from the fullback position seeking out the best path to take through the line and he protects the ball well from handsy linebackers and linemen.
Brandon Lewis is another possibility at tailback, as he has shown a nice ability to get free on pitch options. However Coach Calhoun has said he doesn’t consider him an option at tailback, most likely because he is valuable in a receiving role. If any of you remember Ronald Cleveland, Garrett Brown, and Jonathan Warzeka, Lewis has the same skill set as those standouts. Each of them had seasons in which they averaged more than 7 yards per rush and more than 20 yards per catch.
So lets look at the projected depth chart.
- Brad Roberts
- Elijah Robinson/Omar Fattah
- Chance Stevenson
- Jorden Gidrey
- Brandon Lewis
- Logan Mann/Micah Davis
Brad Roberts is a great example of why Falcon fans should not get too excited or depressed about recruiting rankings at Air Force. He was recruited by the Falcons in 2019 as a 2 star recruit, the 228th ranked running back in the country according to 247’s rankings. If you go back and watch Robert’s high school senior highlights, you’ll notice he was particularly adept at picking his way through the middle of the line, and that he was good at making blocks to spring his teammates. Calhoun’s staff must have noticed that ability and were the only FBS team to offer Roberts a scholarship. It’s just what the Falcons want out of a fullback. Roberts ended the season averaging 7.2 yards per carry running behind an outstanding offensive line made up of 2 star recruits Parker Ferguson and Kyle Krepsz and no star recruits Nolan Laufenberg, Adam Jewell and Nicholas Noyen. He was named as honorable mention All-Mountain West, but a full season should bring him even higher honors.
Roberts started the season behind Timothy Jackson on the depth chart, but when Jackson lost a fumble deep in Air Force territory, Roberts replaced Jackson and became the starter for the rest of the season, and never fumbled the ball. On a side note, Jackson has left the team to concentrate on cadet activities.
Omar Fattah/ Elijah Robinson
The Falcons rotate fullbacks regularly to keep the starting fullback fresh. The last few years there has been a trend for the backup fullback to be a more traditional fullback who has additional power for short yardage and goal line situations. Or as Coach Calhoun says, someone who has trouble finding pants to fit his thighs. Both of these backups are in that mold. Fattah was a turnback last year and has seen limited action but has shown good power. Robinson played in two games last year and ran the ball well, adding a 50 yard fullback dive to his resume.
Stevenson is another example of flexibility required by the Air Force scheme of player utilization. Two years ago, Stevenson was a tailback who was use sparingly. When he was utilized, it was usually on a tailback option pass. He completed both his attempts for 41 and 22 yard gains.
Last year, he was being considered as a starter at the quarterback position, but took the turnback option when the season was delayed. He’s back at the tailback position this year, but doesn’t have enough of a track record to predict his level of performance at the position.
Gidrey played as a backup tailback last year in his first year at the Academy. He looked somewhat unsure at times; adapting to the option is difficult and very few freshmen get a chance in their first year.
Lewis flashed some good potential in his freshman year, averaging 20 yards per catch on 5 receptions. Unfortunately, he was forced to sit out his sophomore year over an undisclosed infraction of Academy rules.
Last year, he became a go-to player when Kade Remsberg sat out a game with an injury, and Lewis stepped in as the primary pitch option. He averaged 9 yards per carry on 20 carries in 5 games. He also had 9 receptions for 79 yards sharing the slotback position with Ben Peterson.
Expect a breakout year stat-wise from Lewis in 2021.
Logan Mann/Micah Davis
Mann is a senior who has been stuck behind some talented slotbacks, Ben Water, Ben Peterson, Brandon Lewis, and Ronald Cleveland.
Micah Davis will be a sophomore this year, and had one carry for 13 yards last year.
Next week we will take a look at the quarterback depth chart.