Updated: March 6, 2010 at 12:00 am
Air Force secondary coach Charlton Warren can’t help but smile when asked about the group of defensive backs he’ll have for the 2010 season.
Three starters return from the secondary that helped the Falcons rank fifth in the country in pass defense. And this group should be deeper and more athletic than any in recent memory.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Warren said after a spring practice last week.
Much of the excitement stems from having cornerstone cornerbacks – Reggie Rembert, a rising senior and first-team All-Mountain West Conference performer in 2009, and Anthony Wright, Jr., a rising junior who intercepted seven passes and earned second-team all-league honors in 2009. With Rembert and Wright, Air Force has a pair of lock-down corners. And they offer coaches plenty of scheme options.
“You can play man coverage, you can play zone coverage, you can disguise and play half-field,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “Just throughout the year, they give you really, really the ability to game-plan.”
The Falcons have capable backup corners in juniors P.J. Adeji-Paul (two starts last season) and Josh Hall (who has turned heads this spring). They also return Jon Davis, a junior and potential future star who started at free safety last season. They must find a replacement, however, for three-year starting strong safety Chris Thomas.
The top candidates to replace Thomas are junior Phil Ofili, rising sophomore Brian Lindsay, junior Kevin Jablonsky and rising senior Ben Cochran, a converted quarterback. Ofili, who started the New Mexico game, and the imposing Lindsay (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) seem to be the frontrunners for the job.
“They both bring something different to the table,” Warren said. “Phil’s experienced, knows a little bit more. Brian’s physically gifted and is a big fella coming down through there. … It won’t be decided until right before the first game, I bet, because they’re going to battle it all the way.”