Air Force football was recognized for its academic achievement for a ninth straight season Tuesday.
The Falcons tied Northwestern with 995 points for third place among Football Bowl Subdivision programs as the NCAA announced its Academic Progress Rate leaders. Washington (999) and Mississippi (997) led the list.
The APR tracks eligibility, retention and graduation rate for each student-athlete on scholarship, or in Air Force’s case as a nonscholarship program, those recruited and on a varsity roster.
Air Force placed 16 players on the Mountain West all-academic team this past fall, including standouts like linebackers Kyle Johnson and Demonte Meeks, safeties Jeremy Fejedelem and Garrett Kauppila and offensive linemen Nolan Laufenberg and Connor Vikupitz.
The biggest practical advantage from being near the top of the list is that, if not enough bowl teams are eligible, the NCAA begins filling with 5-7 teams based on APR ratings. The Falcons, who finished 11-2 this past season and ranked No. 22 nationally, figure to have larger aspirations in 2020 (or 2021, if the season is played in the spring). However, it’s worth noting that the team finished 5-7 in two of the past three seasons.
This is the ninth consecutive season that Air Force has ranked in the top 10 percent of football programs in APR. No other service academy or team from the Mountain West placed in the top 10 this season.
Air Force’s wrestling team also cracked the top five, ranking fifth behind Stanford, Columbia-Barnard, Wisconsin and Navy.
The Falcons’ women’s gymnastics team tied for first and was one of 25 schools with a perfect score.
1. Washington 999
2. Mississippi 997
3. Air Force 995
5. Clemson 993
6. Alabama 990
Wake Forest 990
10. Boston College 989
1. Stanford 1,000
2. Columbia-Barnard 998
3. Wisconsin 997
4. Navy 996
5. Air Force 995