As Troy Calhoun enters into his seventh season as head coach of the Air Force Program he finds himself in another rebuilding phase. While other coaches sit around the fax machine on National Signing Day with anticipation, coaches like Calhoun understand that scheme is important, and they must recruit accordingly.
Calhoun runs the flexbone offense out of necessity, and so it is imperative that the kids he recruits are not only willing to come to Colorado Springs, but that they also understand the importance of team over individual stats and accolades. Over his 6 year span as leader of the Falcons, Calhoun has amassed an impressive record of 47-31, but is coming off of a somewhat disappointing 2012 campaign that saw his team struggle to get to the .500 mark.
Over his tenure Calhoun’s squads have some impressive wins, with victories over BYU, Georgia Tech, #25 Houston(2009) and yes, even a 41-24 win against the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium in 2007. It was a different story for the Falcons in 2011 though, as they left South Bend licking their wounds from a 59-33 pounding. In their history, the Irish and Falcons have met a total of 29 times, with Notre Dame walking away victorious 23 times.
In their history the Air Force program has only won 10 or more games in a season just five times, and 2013 will probably not add to that total. The Falcons will have to replace their starting quarterback Connor Dietz, with Junior Kale Pearson. Pearson did see the field last year, but struggled to throw the ball with any accuracy, so it is anything but a given that he will start over talented Sophomore Jaleel Awini. Awini stands at 6’2 and is regarded as more of a pocket passer, but Calhoun’s hand may be forced here if Pearson fails to elevate his game.
Out of the Falcons for top rushers last year, only one is returning, in the name of Jon Lee. The Falcons are thin at running back, and have converted Safety Anthony LaCoste as a possibility, and may even consider playing their all-purpose yardage leader in Ty MacArthur(WR) at play tailback.
It gets no easier on defense for Calhoun and staff, as they try and replace three of their four starting linebackers, and obviously not a recipe for success, when you run a 3-4 defense. The Falcons gave up an average of 29 points per game, and that gets even worse sounding when you consider they run a clock control type offense. The Falcon defense allowed four opponents to score over 40 points, five times, and considering they are basically replacing their whole linebacking group, 2013 could be a long year for Air Force fans.
Nick Siler – (OT) Henderson, TX (6’4 – 255)
Versatile linemen and a strong mental approach. Had a good frame for this level, and should support limited growth. Nimble feet, long-arms, and quick hands, but lack explosive power.
Other Offers(6 total) Louisiana Tech, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, McNeese St. North Texas
Kieron Williams – (S) Shreveport, LA (6’1 – 182)
Good speed and instincts, Williams will have no problem playing at this level of competition. Can play pass and run equally well, and possesses strong wrap tackling ability.
Other Offers –(6 total) Ole Miss, Grambling St., Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Monroe, Northwestern St.
Jordin Hamilton – (WR) Scottsdale, AZ (5’9 – 155)
What he lacks in size, Hamilton makes up for in speed. Posseses explosive first step, and strong hands. Might be an option to convert to DB, but lack of size may hurt him.
Other Offers – (1 total) N/A
When you’re crippled with the constraints and requirements a service academy has in place, it’s not a surprise that Air Force finished with the 100th best recruiting class of 2013. Calhoun at least understands that there are kids out there who fit the requirements, desire, and possess the type of talent he is looking for. When a young man decides to play football at the Air Force Academy, that is choice that will not only affect the next four years of his life, but the next forty. Each Cadet who plays football is required to do the following –
- Average 19 hours per semester
- Freshmen are required to complete 40 days basic training
- Sophomores are required to complete 18 days of survival training
- Following graduation, they are required to serve a minimum of 5 years
- Air Force Academy does not offer scholarships, and cadets must be nominated for admission.
So for Calhoun, it is less about having “misses” and more about finding the correct type of kid who is willing to give 100% on the field and off.
Notre Dame vs. Air Force Recruiting Battles
As you can imagine in this day and age, there rarely, if ever are going to be kids that the Irish and Falcons will pursue at the same time. Air Force did show Irish commit Corey Robinson some interest, but the feeling wasn’t mutual.
As they only return 7 starters from 2012(3 off 4 def) a lack of experience and fire-power will present a formidable challenge for Calhoun and his staff, and they know it. The Falcons will welcome the Irish into Colorado Springs on October 26th this year, and while we are sure they will play hard, they will struggle to keep the score close. They do have some games that most would consider winnable, but the Falcons are going to have to come together very quickly for another 6-6 season to be a possibility.