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Competition brewing at running back for Air Force

August 5, 2013 Updated: August 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm
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photo - Air Force running back Anthony LaCoste slips past South Dakota 's Earv Archambeau on a kick off return Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, at Falcon Stadium.  (Christian Murdock/The Gazette)
Air Force running back Anthony LaCoste slips past South Dakota 's Earv Archambeau on a kick off return Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, at Falcon Stadium. (Christian Murdock/The Gazette) 

The line separating Air Force's top two running backs has blurred over the past two practices.

Senior Anthony LaCoste continues to take most reps with the first team, as he has since the start of spring practice, but junior Jon Lee has worked in with greater frequency.

"There's no depth chart," Lee said. "I'm not one or LaCoste is not one. We're battling right now and every day is a competition."

This is in contrast to the competition for the quarterback position, where Kale Pearson has monopolized the plays with the first team while Jaleel Awini has run exclusively with the second team.

The setup does cause a bit of confusion, as Lee often doesn't learn until just before a drill or team play who is going to run with the first team.

It may like this through the full season, as Air Force likes the contrasting styles of the burner Lee - who has run a 4.33 40-meter dash and can broad jump more than 10 feet - and the physical LaCoste.

"We've got Jon and Anthony rolling," running backs coach Ben Miller said following Monday morning's practice, the fourth of the season. "With as much as we run the football, we've got to have a pack of them back there."

At least one preseason publication placed Lee on the Mountain West's preseason second-team, a bold call for a player not yet a clear starter on his own team. It speaks to the talent of the junior from Bethlehem, Georgia, but also highlights the fact that for reasons that remain somewhat unclear the coaching staff hasn't placed its full trust in him.

"I think it's more me and my attitude and just getting used to the college life, especially at the academy," Lee said. "I think it's taken me a little longer than usual, but just mentally and physically I'm getting better."

Miller confirmed that Lee has made strides in off-the-field areas.

"He's done some good things," Miller said. "He's grown up a little bit, which we've asked him to do. Sometimes, especially at the academy, you see a big difference in a kid between his sophomore and his junior year. They just take another leap at the academy and as a football player.

"He's done a lot of things to show us that he can make that leap, but he's still got a lot to prove just like everybody else."

Coach Troy Calhoun and LaCoste were not available to the media Monday.

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