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Gazette Premium Content AFA senior playing catchup on football field

JAKE SCHALLER Updated: August 15, 2009 at 12:00 am

Saj El-Amin referred to himself Saturday as “the senior freshman” on the Air Force football team.

At the academy, El-Amin is a senior. But because he’s playing football for the first time since high school, he often feels like a freshman on the field. After all, he’s still learning the Falcons’ signals and playbook.

“It’s like taking another class,” El-Amin said.

After playing only basketball his first three years at the academy, El-Amin decided to come out for the football team as a receiver. And the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder from Clearwater, Fla., has shown flashes of potential and outstanding athletic ability. But he said he needs to become more consistent.

Take, for instance, back-to-back plays during the scrimmage portion of Saturday’s practice. With the first-team offense facing a fourth-and-5 from just inside the 50-yard line against the second-team defense, El-Amin ran a post pattern and caught a strike from Tim Jefferson for 20 yards and the first down.

On the next play, however, El-Amin made a poor block near the sideline and was yelled at by coaches.

“Can’t be happy about the last play,” El-Amin said. “Have to move on to the next play.”

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun credited El-Amin and sophomore receiver Zach Kauth with making good catches on Saturday, but he said both must improve perimeter blocking. That shouldn’t be hard for a basketball player, Calhoun said, because it’s like playing defense on the court.

“Square up and move your feet sideways and, shoot, here you get to hand check — you get to use your hands,” he said. “In basketball it’s a foul. Here it’s not, it’s a good block.”

El-Amin said he still plans to play hoops after the football season but he’s “focusing on one season at a time right now.”

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