Updated: August 2, 2009 at 12:00 am
The anticipated spring competition between sophomores Tim Jefferson and Asher Clark never materialized. Jefferson, who started the last eight games of the 2008 season and won Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year honors, missed most of spring practice to concentrate on academics. And Clark, who started the last eight games of last season at tailback but was moved back to quarterback (his high school position), had his spring cut short by a knee injury. Fellow sophomore Connor Dietz performed well in the spring and could join the competition.
Air Force returns both starters in junior Reggie Rembert and sophomore Anthony Wright Jr. Rembert, however, likely will miss the first several games of the season because of a suspension. Junior Elliott Battle and sophomore P.J. Adeji-Paul are two candidates who could step in during Rembert’s absence. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said Battle “had a nice spring, he’s been with us a few years and he’s realizing, ‘I’ve got two years left, my time is now.’” Also, sophomore Josh Hall, who played junior varsity last season, could jump into the mix.
Ryan Harrison’s quiet dependability as a senior became more apparent in the spring when none of the players vying to replace him was consistent enough to win the job. Junior Zack Bell and sophomore Garrett Jack are listed as the starter and backup, respectively, but the competition remains open. Sophomore Erik Soderberg and some incoming freshmen will have a chance to win the spot. Look for coach Troy Calhoun to put all his kickers in pressure situations throughout camp.
4. Defensive end
Junior Rick Ricketts should fill one of the starting spots left open by the graduation of Jake Paulson and Ryan Kemp, and Myles Morales is penciled in for the other. But the Falcons used multiple linemen in 2008 and would like to again. Wylie Wikstrom, Ben Kopacka and Kebin Umodu are among the players who will push for playing time.
5. X wide receiver
Air Force lost its top deep threat, Spencer Armstrong, to graduation. And Armstrong’s potential successor, Jaquon Robinson, will not be back at the academy. In addition, reliable Sean Quintana has moved to tight end. So while senior Josh Cousins (last season’s top receiver with 16 catches for 176 yards) and junior Kevin Fogler (11 catches, 214 yards) return, there is a dearth of experienced depth at this position. Senior Anthony Hemphill and 6-foot-5 sophomore Zack Kauth could push for playing time.