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In the know: Unlikely path led Luke Strebel to Air Force, and to the doorstep of key record

November 10, 2017 Updated: November 10, 2017 at 7:20 pm
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Air Force’s all-time scoring record – shared by legends Dee Dowis and Beau Morgan – may soon belong to a player who never met his recruiting coach and came to the academy uncertain he would even play football.

“Obviously those are legendary names and it would be an honor to be up there with them,” said Luke Strebel, the unlikely successor in the record book.

With 240 points, Strebel ranks No. 1 among Air Force kickers in scoring and needs just 12 more points to catch Dowis and Morgan, quarterbacks from the 1980s and ’90s.

He has three games remaining in the regular season to catch them, plus a possible bowl game if the Falcons (4-5) can find their way into one.

Strebel, a Tennessee native, attended kicking camps at Vanderbilt for as long as he can remember and figured that’s where he would end up. But then coach James Franklin went to Penn State, where Strebel did not want to go, and his only option at Vanderbilt would have been to pay his own way as a preferred walkon.

“I wasn’t willing to lay down that kind of cash,” Strebel said.

Air Force had also long been on his radar, in part because his father, Dan, was a 1988 graduate and club rugby player; but also because the Falcons offered both soccer and football programs at the Division I level.

Strebel had been in contact with then-Falcons assistant Clay Hendrix, who recruited his area, but the one time Hendrix visited his school in Tennessee, Strebel was paying an unofficial visit to the academy. The two never actually crossed paths.

Strebel applied and received an appointment to the academy separate of athletics.

“I was always going to play a sport,” Strebel said. “I hadn’t decided between soccer and football yet, I was still kind of flirting with both of them.”

He chose football, obviously, and earned a starting position midway through his sophomore season. He ranks second to Will Conant in career field-goal percentage (39-46, .848) and among the three kickers with perfect PAT percentages. His 123 attempts are nearly double the total of the other two combined.

Strebel said the only record he wanted this year to match the 22 consecutive kicks (a Mountain West record) he set last year as a junior.

As for the career scoring record, he understands that different variables went into putting him in place to set it.

“If you look back on the history of the kickers, I’ve just been blessed to play a few more years,” Strebel said. “That’s the way I look at it. All their percentages are just as good as mine. Their PAT percentages are just as good. I was just blessed to start a little earlier in my career, so I got a few extra kicks. Really that’s the distinguisher between me and them is I had a few extra games.

“But obviously it is pretty special. I think it’s pretty cool to break any record that you can.”

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