Welcome to the ninth post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today will look at the #9 team in our rankings, Air Force.
The Falcons never have a problem getting the quantity when it comes to recruiting, but many years the quality is usually up for debate. In this year’s class, there are a handful of players who definitely qualify as high-quality players who can play with anyone in the Mountain West during their college careers. After that, there are a slew of players who are intriguing skills and are high on potential if they can develop and put it all together. Thankfully for them, they are in a program that is high on player development. With that being said, this post highlights twenty of those players.
- Roughly 65 recruits signed (20 recruits highlighted in this post).
- 65 high school players (20 in this post)
- 32 offensive, 30 defensive, 3 special teams
- 7 3-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
- Players with a composite rating over 85: 1
- Players with a composite rating over 82: 5
- Breakdown by state (not a comprehensive list): 10 Texas, 4 California, 4 Washington, 3 Colorado, 3 Florida, 2 Arizona, 2 Georgia, 2 Michigan, 2 Nebraska, 1 DC, 1 Idaho, 1 Illinois, 1 Iowa, 1 Kansas, 1 Kentucky, 1 Louisiana, 1 Minnesota, 1 Missouri, 1 Nevada, 1 Ohio, 1 Oregon, 1 Tennessee
- 247 Composite Rankings
- Overall: 126th
- Recruiting: 114th
- Transfer: N/A
Note: I could not cover all the signed recruits in this breakdown. The players below were chosen based on rating, position, and familiarity. I realize this leaves many promising young players off the list, and I’m sorry to the ones who couldn’t be included.
QB Kemper Hodges
Kemper is one of the quarterbacks in this Air Force class. He has a big arm, capable of making deep throws, even when he can’t get his legs fully into throws. Hodges moves around the field easily, eluding defenders and covering lots of ground in a short amount of time. He is very shifty and his strong frame makes him hard to tackle. Kemper looks like a great fit in the Falcon running system due to his natural ability to run paired with an arm able to make deep passes.
RB Kade Frew
Kade is a well-rounded runner coming into this class. He reads and follows blocks well and finds another gear as he hits the open hole. Frew is small and shifty but also powerful, meaning defenders have a hard time bringing him down in the open field. He changes direction easily and maintains his balance well thanks to his low center of gravity. Kade has the potential to be a great running back and is going to a place that excels in developing them.
RB Kaden Cloud
Kaden is another talented running back the Falcons were able to secure. He reaches top speed quickly, allowing him to explode out of the line of scrimmage. Cloud is intelligent as well, taking good angles on his runs and recognizing how to separate from the defense. He is also used in the receiving game quite a bit thanks to his solid hands and route running. Kaden should translate well to the option game catching the pitch and accelerating right away.
WR Dylan Evans
Dylan comes in as a wide receiver for the Falcons. He moves downfield with long, easy strides, covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Evans is a consistent deep threat, able to track the ball in the air and adjust himself to be able to make a catch. He is a willing and effective blocker, which is important in the AFA offense. Dylan should fit right into what this offense likes to do with receivers once he is able to get on the field.
WR Chedon James
Chedon is a big-play wide receiver in this Air Force class. He is an efficient route runner and turns on the jets after the catch, with his eyes on the endzone. James gets downfield in a hurry and hands good hands that help him make difficult catches with defenders in his face. He can take the ball on sweeps and screens but is really at his best in the intermediate and deep passing game. Chedon will need to spend more time honing his blocking but he has the deep passing ability down pat.
TE Jeremiah Joseph Bwire
Jeremiah comes to the Falcons to play tight end. He is a mobile player who can shift into position to impact a play. Bwire is a powerful blocker, delivering plenty of hits on unsuspecting defenders as he leads the charge on a play. He also has good hands and can get involved in the short passing game. Jeremiah should fit in well with the Air Force’s running scheme and could become a sneaky option in the passing game.
TE Michael Bunyan
Michael is another tight end in this class. He is a physical, high-energy player who is relentless in his desire to impact a play. Bunyan gets off the line quickly into his route and surprises defenders with his separation. He is a capable blocker who gets low to gain leverage and win his assignments. Michael is a gamer and he should make an impact at the academy during his college career.
OL Jeremiah Jackson
Jeremiah is a very talented offensive lineman. He explodes off the snap and locks on to defenders to push them back off the line. Jackson does a great job tapping into his strength and opening up big holes for running backs. He is athletic and mobile, even moonlighting as a defensive tackle in high school. Jeremiah looks like a future impact player at guard for the Falcons.
OL Ridge Brewington
Ridge is one of the o-line recruits in this class. He explodes out of his crouch and moves very fluidly to get into the proper position to block. Brewington makes every block with clear force and loads his lower body well. He is nimble on his feet and athletic enough to be used to pull on run plays. Ridge will be a great fit in the Falcon offense and could play anywhere along the line.
OL Alec Falk
Alec is a two-way player coming in to play offense. He brings size and athleticism to the offensive line and has room to grow in his frame as well. Falk is a high-motor player as a defensive end and brings that same intensity to the offense, especially when moving around to pull on run plays and neutralizing linebackers. He is able to reset the line of scrimmage by pushing defenders back when run blocking. Alec looks to have a bright future for the Falcons.
OL Rudy Varela
Rudy is yet another o-line player. He plays with tenacity and his film shows pancake after pancake block. Varela keeps his head up and looks for the next block in order to finish plays and extend runs for the team. He overpowers defenders with his strength and does not allow defenders to get off his blocks. Rudy looks to be a great fit on the interior of the line.
OL Trevor Tate
Trevor comes in to play on the offensive line. He is a skilled run-blocker, who squares up on his blocks and gets defenders off balance. Tate is constantly getting into the second level of the defense with his blocking and serves as the lead blocker for running backs. He is quick and mobile after the snap, hitting defenders immediately. Trevor looks like a natural fit at guard at the next level.
OL Jace Sutulovich
Jace is another offensive lineman in this class. He is big and powerful, laying menacing hits on defenders who have little chance at matching his strength. Sutulovich is still athletic enough to get off the line and lay hits on linebackers or other players trying to disrupt the offense. He displays a solid understanding of his assignment on each play and is committed to executing it. Jace plays primarily tackle but could also shift inside to guard if necessary.
DL Beau Edwards
Beau is coming to the team to play on the defensive line. He has a great mix of strength and speed on film, fighting through double teams and then chasing down the quarterback to make the play. Edwards is able to neutralize offenses by eating up blocks and opening up plays for his teammates. He does a great job stopping ball-carriers in their tracks with forceful tackles. Beau should be a stalwart on the d-line for years to come.
DE Jack Curtis
Jack looks like a potential star for the Falcons if he can hold up his end of the bargin off the field. He is long and too fast for blockers on the offensive line, blowing by them on his way to causing havoc in the backfield. Curtis finds holes in the blocking schemes and uses his speed to get through them, or else he can get a step on linemen and takes good angles to gain an advantage over them. Jack could even play right away as a freshman as long as everything else works out for him.
LB Cooper Roy
Cooper is a good-looking linebacker prospect for Air Force. He is a violent tackler who has tremendous in-game speed, flying around the field to make a play. Roy is well-rounded, able to shut down the run game, get after the quarterback, or drop back in coverage on occasion. He moves well laterally and displays textbook tackling form, allowing him to succeed at tackling in the open field. Cooper is a fierce competitor and that will aid him well during his time at the academy.
LB Tyler Stevens
Tyler joins the ranks as a linebacker. He moonlighted as a running back in high school, where he could showcase his speed and easy change of direction. Stevens is very athletic and is able to cover sideline to sideline on the field. He has good awareness on the field and gives maximum effort every play. Tyler should develop into a solid linebacker for Air Force.
LB Zach Juckel
Zach is another linebacker in this class. He has good instincts reacting to plays and does a great job not over pursuing to the ball. Juckel sheds blocks with little issue and his speed is a definite plus on the field. He is a sound tackler who doesn’t let players get away due to his ability to wrap up well. Zach has all the makings of a great outside linebacker in college.
DB KJ Truehill
KJ comes in as a defensive back for AFA. He is a ballhawk in the secondary who tracks the ball well in the air and closes in a ball to make a play. Truehill is a physical player who tackles well in the open field and isn’t afraid to step up in the run game. He is at his best playing a bit off of receivers and then coming back into the ball at full speed to make a play. KJ should fit well into any defensive scheme at the next level.
DB Devin Dunn
Devin is another defensive back for the Falcons. He plays tight and physical coverage, matching the speed or receivers and knocking them off of their routes. Dunn can diagnose plays quickly and react in time to be in a position to make a play. He is athletic enough to cover on the outside, in the slot, or play as a strong-side linebacker in zone coverage. Devin has the potential to make an impact early on in his college career.
DB Pharoh Fisher
Pharoh comes in as a defensive back after seeing time at both ends of the ball in high school. He is skilled in coverage, able to track both the ball and his man at the same time and make a play on the ball. Fisher diagnosis plays in the moment and is athletic enough to react by getting into the proper position. He normally plays tight man coverage but can also play off his man, and also steps up in the run game. Pharoh has a good deal of talent and if he can put it all together, he could have a productive college career.
Team Writer Thoughts:
Mike does a good job summarizing the observable strengths of all the recruits above, so I’ll comment on the intangibles of a good Falcon recruit. First, the recruit doesn’t help if they don’t want to stay at the Academy and serve in the Air Force. The grind of cadet life is not for everyone. Second, will the recruit be willing to commit himself to executing his place in the system at the highest level without being a centerpiece of the game plan? Coach Calhoun’s system relies on spreading the workload around to keep his team fresh and not allowing the opposition to focus on any one player. These factors are not easily seen, and the best recruits are rarely predictable.
I will make a few comments about some of the players, however. In recent years, two high schools have been prominent at producing some good recruits who have stuck it out for four years for the Falcons.
The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida, has provided star linebacker Kyle Johnson, star defensive lineman Jordan Jackson, starting center Ben Mercer, and receiver Amari Terry to the Falcon roster. RB Kade Frew is the addition this year, and he should have a good idea of what the Academy is about and what will be expected from him.
Williams Field High school is the other school that is becoming a pipeline for the Falcon roster. CB Tre Bugg went there, and his brother Mason will be a junior this year with perhaps a third Bugg boy on the way. Kaden Cloud is a promising running back coming in this year from Williams with a good idea about the Academy experience.
There are also two “legacy” recruits arriving next year whose fathers were outstanding players for the Falcons. Alec Falk is listed above, and his father was also an offensive lineman for the Falcons in 1998. Another not listed above is linebacker Luke Maki, son of all-time great linebacker Terry Maki. He’ll be a walk-on for the Falcons, just like his father was. Maki ended his career with 475 tackles, an Academy record, and is a coach for his son’s high school football team. Currently, the Falcons have oen player who is the son of a former Falcon, junior slotback Dane Kinamon.
Mike: Curtis, Roy, Jackson
NittanyFalcon: Curtis, Roy, Jackson, Falk
Talented enough to play right away:
Mike: Curtis, Roy, Jackson, Frew, Hodges
NittanyFalcon: Right away for the Falcons means might get a few snaps if injuries become a problem. Frew, Cloud, Curtis, Roy
Mike: Evans, Juckel
Mike: Linebacker, Running back
NittanyFalcon: Offensive Line, Running Back
As stated above, this Air Force class is led by a few high-quality players and flanked by a plethora of other signees to fill out the ranks. How this class turns out remains to be seen but it would not be a surprise for quite a few players to overachieve and outplay their recruiting rankings. There is a lot of potential in this class and most of them fit the Falcon system very well. With that being said, some players may not like the academy, while others may not pan out due to the rigorous standards. Assuming they do, the potential is there. Overall, there’s a lot to like here.
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