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Air Force receiver David Cormier practices on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. (Parker Seibold, The Gazette)

The changes on Air Force’s depth chart were subtle and expected.

David Cormier slid from up from No. 2 at wide receiver on the list released Tuesday in advance of Saturday’s season-opener against Northern Iowa. Cormier is a returning starter and the player listed ahead of him in a preseason depth chart, Wyatt Wilson, is out with an injury.

Tight end Kyle Patterson was removed from the depth chart after an August that saw him limited in practice as he recovers from a knee injury. Caleb Rillos replaces him.

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The changes among defensive starters involved only some position shifts in the secondary and Jayden Goodwin and Michael Mack II replacing Jace Waters and Zion Kelly. These were predictable based on the way the team finished last year and that Kelly wasn’t with the team in August, though a source says he has recently returned.

“When you look at the way we’ve practiced, especially the past four weeks, I don’t think there’s anything that’s necessarily a surprise,” coach Troy Calhoun said Tuesday prior to releasing the depth chart.

“I’ll say this, a depth chart is forever dynamic,” Calhoun added. “There’s nothing that’s set in stone that way. I think sometimes you may list an initial 11 that may change in the next 72 hours, because it does. It certainly will change as you proceed throughout the season. For us, we use enough personnel groupings on both sides of the ball that we’re going to play a lot more than 11.”

Some observations about the depth chart:

Inside linebacker

Bo Richter remains listed as the No. 2 inside linebacker behind TD Blackmon. That doesn’t mean that’s where he’ll play. Richter, who looks noticeably stronger this year, has been used as an outside linebacker and could see the field in multiple positions.

“Bo’s playing everywhere,” Blackmon said. “If there’s a position, Bo’s played it or at least tried it. So, yeah, he’s moving around a lot.”

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As for the inside linebacker position — one of the most hotly contested because of the experience of Blackmon, Richter, Alec Mock and Johnathon Youngblood — Blackmon and Mock remain listed as the starters.

“Every day is still a competition,” Blackmon said. “Everybody’s still trying to earn their spot and we’re all working hard for it.”

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Second-generation Falcons

Rillos, who made his first-career catch in the First Responder Bowl against Louisville with a 40-yard gain, would be making his first start if the depth chart holds.

He’ll be joined in the offensive lineup by slot receiver Dane Kinamon.

Kinamon, Rillos and Mock are all sons of former Air Force football players, as is Payton Zdroik, who makes his depth chart debut as the No. 2 nose guard.

Cornerback

Another spot that seemed unsettled through much of camp. Eian Castonguay and Michael Mack II are listed as starters with Corey Collins and Jamari Bellamy as backups. Don’t be surprised if Collins joins the starters on Saturday in one of those spots.

Kicker

The place kicking spot belongs to Matthew Dapore, who earned the spot midway through his freshman season in 2021. Handling kickoffs, however, is Luke Wieland, a Pine Creek graduate from Colorado Springs. So, if the Falcons win the toss and elect to defer (as they almost always do) or if Northern Iowa wins the toss and takes the ball, the season will begin off the foot of a local product.

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New names

Among the players making their first appearance on a depth chart for Air Force are safeties Jerome Gaillard and Jake Martin (another local product from Lewis-Palmer in Monument), Bellamy at cornerback, Brandon Engle at wide receiver and Cade Harris as slot receiver. All are sophomores.

The depth chart's lone freshman is third-string long snapper Kurt Chesney.

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