Chuckie Keeton knows exactly what to expect when visiting Falcon Stadium on Saturday.
The rowdy cadets, the pageantry and everything else will seem familiar to him. He once sat in the stadium as a committed recruit ready to sign up with Air Force before a change of heart led him to Utah State and to a standout career that the school is touting in a Heisman Trophy campaign.
Keeton gave a verbal commitment to Air Force in the summer of 2010, just before his senior season at Cyprus Creek High School in Houston. He decommitted in October of that year.
"It was a couple months, but it was long to me," Keeton said. "I loved it and everything. I loved everything about the academy, but the more and more I thought about it, the more overwhelming it was.
"It was really more personal. I didn't want to be restricted as much. I like my social life a lot more than that. I was good to go in, I qualified and all that, it was just a personal decision. I've been happy with my decision since then."
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun doesn't like to use the term "committed" when referencing his recruits unless that athlete has completed basic training.
Keeton was hardly the first recruit to reverse field on a decision to attend Air Force, and he is an example of why Calhoun likes to be up front with the overwhelming demands made on cadets.
"I think by and large that's the popular choice is not to go serve the country," Calhoun said. "That's hands down the popular choice by a very large percentage."
Air Force players are aware of Keeton's recruiting background, though none interviewed could recall seeing him on a recruiting trip. None of the players resented Keeton for making the decision that he did.
"We understand completely," linebacker Joey Nichol said. "This place isn't for everybody."
Since Calhoun often talks about recruiting only student-athletes "without flaws," Air Force players are guessing they're going to find a high-caliber person behind Keeton's large stats.
"He probably is a bit of a leader," safety Christian Spears said. "To me it kind of gives me the type of player I'll be going against and what I can expect."
More on Chuckie Keeton
- Completed 31-of-40 attempts for 314 yards and two touchdowns in an opening loss to Utah. He also ran for 85 yards and a touchdown in the game.
- Has thrown for at least 300 yards four times in his past six games and six times in his career.
- Threw for 3,373 yards and 27 touchdowns as a sophomore last season.