Brody Bagnall is out to accomplish something that has never been done. And this aspiration for the Air Force linebacker has nothing to do with football.
Bagnall, a junior chemistry major, has immersed himself in independent study this semester. For two to three hours a day he works solo in the lab trying to “do reactions that have never been done.”
The mission, he explained, is the nucleahelix substitution of terminal alkyl halides. Or something close to that.
If it works, he’d like to put a paper on the project up for peer review next spring and present at the American Chemical Society.
After that he’ll eye a grad school program, apply that somehow on active duty and, potentially, return to the academy as an instructor.
“The options are unlimited,” he said.
But first things first. Bagnall is also out to fill half of the void on defense left by linebackers Jack Flor and Grant Ross. Taking on that role in spring practice alongside sophomore Kyle Johnson has been a welcome change for the longtime backup entering his final season.
“This is probably the most fun I’ve had playing football here, to be honest,” Bagnall said.
Players with extensive experience can be found all over the defense except at the two inside linebacker positions. Bagnall and Johnson have a combined 14 career tackles and will replace a tandem in Flor and Ross that made 376 stops. This might seem problematic considering the importance of the position, but there seems little concern among the Falcons.
“That group’s made really, really good improvement this spring,” coach Troy Calhoun said.
In terms of leadership required from that spot, Bagnall points out that he’s played with many of his defensive teammates since prep school.
“It’s not like I’m a new guy who transferred in,” Bagnall said. “They rely on me for the calls and everything.”
And as for the talent, linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden likes the top four on the depth chart that also include Blake Daily and Chris Musselman. Freshmen Price Fisher and Demonte Meeks are also providing competition.
“I’m really encouraged,” Vanderlinden said.
Bagnall played most of the third quarter against Army when Flor left with an injury, but that’s the bulk of the experience for this group aside from special teams.
So, yes, there are some new elements found on the interior of the Air Force defense and no one can say exactly how they’ll react this fall. But turnover there isn’t unprecedented. For something entirely new you have to follow Bagnall out of the field and into the lab.
“It’s high-level stuff,” Bagnall explained of his research.
Air Force hopes the same will be said of the linebacker’s play this fall.