New Mexico Air Force Football

Air Force tight end Kyle Patterson, right, gestures on Nov. 20, 2020, at Falcon Stadium.

A pair of Air Force football players with NFL aspirations will appear in showcase games this month.

Offensive lineman Isaac Cochran, who graduated in December, has been selected for the Tropical Bowl on Saturday in Orlando’s Camping World Stadium.

Cochran, who played left guard, became the first Falcon to earn All-American honors since Weston Steelhammer in 2016 when he was named a second-team Walter Camp All-America pick. He was a first-team All-Mountain West selection and helped Air Force lead the nation in rushing.

Kyle Patterson, a tight end who is scheduled to graduate in May, will appear in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 28 at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif.

Patterson was one of the most touted recruits in Air Force history – choosing the academy over Alabama, among others – saw his playing career marred by injures that limited him to miss 15 games over his junior and senior seasons.

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During the 2020 season that was shortened to six games, Patterson led the team with 12 catches for 205 yards.

Cochran and Patterson, along with fullback Brad Roberts, have announced their intention to delay their service time and pursue an NFL career, which is allowable under current defense department rules. Those rules are set to change, requiring active-duty service before turning pro, for those entering a service academy after July 2021 who are not grandfathered in under the previous rules.

A few dozen Air Force players have played in showcase or all-star games dating back to 1959.

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Game analysis and insights from The Gazette sports staff including columns by Woody Paige and Paul Klee.

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