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Air Force junior running back Brad Roberts (20) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the Air Force Falcons home football game against the UNLV Rebels at Falcon Stadium at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs,Colo., on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. (Chancey Bush / The Gazette)

Air Force football has mined some key pieces of its teams in recent years from its own state. And the opening of the early signing period indicates that will continue to be the case.

The Falcons landed signatures on Wednesday from Jackson Adams (6-foot-2, 227-pound linebacker from Arapahoe High School in Littleton), Alec Falk (6-5, 272 offensive lineman from Palmer Ridge in Monument), Luke Meyer (6-5, 210 defensive end from Valor Christian in Littleton) and Cade Palmer (6-2, 210 running back from The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs).

The Academy does not release details of its signing classes, so all signees were discovered independently from The Gazette through social media, recruiting services and sources. Also, signees for the Academy do not sign a binding National Letter of Intent.

Still, the four in-state signees represent a significant haul as the other two in-state Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams signed a combined five in-state high school players. Colorado State signed three, Colorado two.

Of the top 17 recruits in Colorado – as rated by 247Sports – Air Force has commitments from three, Colorado two and Colorado State one.

Coach Troy Calhoun cannot discuss details of his class, but clearly the in-state recruits have been a priority in recent years as they have included safety Brodie Hicks, offensive lineman Nolan Laufenberg, receiver Ben Waters, quarterback Isaiah Sanders and current fullback Brad Roberts, who ranks 10th in the nation in rushing with 1,279 yards.

Roberts said he had conversations with Colorado and Colorado State, but wasn’t offered a scholarship by either.

He ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns against Colorado State last month.

“I’m not too sure why it is,” Roberts said when asked why he thought the recruiting didn’t go further with the Buffaloes and Rams, but there’s definitely some pride to kind of stick it to them.”

Of course, not all in-state recruits want to remain in Colorado. Palmer Ridge’s Anthony Costanzo is an example, as he explained his decision to sign with UNLV on Wednesday.

“To be honest I always wanted to be out of state and have that on-my-own feeling,” he said. “No better place to do that than Vegas, right?”

Future of early signing period in question

National reports have suggested alterations may be coming for the December early signing period, a 72-hour window that was instituted in 2017. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has recommended eliminating it. Others have suggested moving it up to as early as August.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said he remains in favor of the December early signing period.

“I do think there needs to be an early signing period,” Calhoun said. “You think of how many kids who already know where they want to go to school, why make them wait longer? If that’s something that they can hem up and it reduces further phone calls, reduces mail, just travel costs in terms of going to see guys and it allows them to push everything aside and whether its focusing on wrestling, working out or doing well on their finals, I’m absolutely in support of some kind of early signing period.”

Three-star recruits among early signees

Air Force picked up three players who had a three-star recruiting ranking on Wednesday.

Falk, the Palmer Ridge lineman, was among them. The others were Luke Sudul, a 6-4, 285 offensive lineman from Marietta, Ga., and Andrew Tillett, a 6-3, 290 defensive lineman from Sumner, Wash.

Tillett had an offer from Idaho State. Sudul had offers from Army, Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, Kent State and several Ivy League schools.

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