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Air Force says Jalen Robinette can't go straight to pros, not drafted after change

April 29, 2017 Updated: April 29, 2017 at 9:27 pm
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Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine Saturday, March 4, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Receiver Jalen Robinette was not selected in the 2017 NFL draft after the Air Force ruled athletes would not be given a waiver from active duty to immediately play professional sports after graduation.

Robinette, according to an Air Force Academy statement, will be required to serve two years active duty before being eligible to request Ready Reserve status, which would allow him to play in the NFL.

Robinette, who led the nation in yards per catch for Air Force Academy in 2016, was expected to be drafted between the second and fifth rounds in the NFL draft.

An NFL scout said Saturday morning he did not expect Robinette to be drafted because of the new ruling. The scout’s prediction turned out to be true. Robinette was not selected in the draft’s seven rounds.
Robinette, reached by phone Saturday morning, politely offered no comment on his situation.

“I really don’t know what to tell you honestly,” he said.

Here is the statement from Air Force:

“The Air Force notified academy leaders yesterday (Thursday) that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes. Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Air Force Academy athletic director Jim Knowlton and football coach Troy Calhoun were not made available Saturday for comment.

A 2016 policy change by the Department of Defense opened the door for Robinette to take a quick ride to the NFL. Under the policy, Robinette could have signed an NFL contract and have deferred five years of active duty and then served in the Air Force reserve during his football offseasons.

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