Brody Bagnall is something of a chemistry wiz.
The Air Force linebacker performed so well in the general chemistry classes at the academy that he decided to major in materials chemistry. Someday he may work in the auto industry, developing new composites and medals to make better, longer-lasting vehicles. Maybe he’ll do the same in the military first.
Point is, someone this well versed in how elements combine gets the importance of fitting into a unit. And in his first chance, he provided a positive charge to the defense.
“Definitely gave me a little bit of confidence in myself,” Bagnall said after making seven tackles in fewer than 20 plays against Army as Jack Flor left for an undisclosed injury. “Every snap you get you gain a little more confidence in your ability as a football player. Hopefully that can carry into next week and the rest of this season.”
Bagnall’s cameo was the first outside of mop-up time for an inside linebacker this season other than Flor or Grant Ross, which has been a departure for Air Force. Last year four players shared time at the spot, which had been the case for several years before that as well.
This year, with only the pair seeing action, it because questionable how the team might perform at that critical position when Flor and Ross are gone.
The chemistry major eased those concerns to an extent Saturday, or at least as much as one can in a game where the defense doesn’t force a punt in a 21-0 loss.
“I tell you what, he was active,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “He was engaged. And really, it was the first time he’s played, too. He’s got great energy, an awful lot of initiative and leadership aptitude and has the intangibles you want in an inside linebacker.
“Getting to play, especially in an academy game, those experiences are almost double. They have that kind of value to them.”
Flor agreed. He said he reaped great benefits from seeing time as a junior, leading to a breakout senior campaign in which he leads the team with 76 tackles.
“Any experience you can have playing in an actual game scenario is great, I think, because it’s such a transition between high school to college practice and then from practice to the game,” Flor said. “It’s huge.
“I thought he stepped in and played great. That was encouraging to see.”
Bagnall attended Evergreen High School, about a mile north of the Columbia River that separates Portland from his hometown of Vancouver, Wash. That’s the same state that produced Flor as well as freshman defensive end Lakota Wills and sophomore nose guard Mosese Fifita, a pair of defenders who figure prominently in the Falcons’ future plans.
Bagnall showed Saturday that he could be a key component in that equation as well.
“I’ve got to use this as fuel,” Bagnall said. “I had some decent plays, but I also missed some tackles that I needed to make. I need to use that into this next week and work on that.”