Air Force will be without preseason All-American offensive guard Nolan Laufenberg on Saturday as the result of COVID-19 contact tracing, The Gazette has learned.
Laufenberg has not tested positive for the coronavirus, but his exposure through an academy class to a cadet who tested positive led to the protocols that will keep him from traveling to San Jose State.
“To ensure the protection of cadet athletes' medical privacy, the academy will not comment on test results,” an Air Force spokesman said.
The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Laufenberg, a Castle Rock native, was named a preseason second-team Walter Camp All-American this past summer and is on the Outland Trophy Watch List. On Tuesday the Mountain West released a video of the top five offensive linemen in the conference, and Laufenberg occupied the top spot.
Seniors Britton Beasley and Hawk Wimmer or junior Kris Campbell and are the likely replacements for Laufenberg in the conference opener against the Spartans at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun was asked early Tuesday, before word reached The Gazette about Laufenberg’s situation, about the constant shuffling expected this year after New Mexico was forced to cancel its opener at Colorado State this weekend.
“Like anything in life, you try to grasp what you really can get ahold of and there are a good number of things of which you aren’t able to get ahold of, and yet I don’t think that part can get you all spun up,” Calhoun said. “I remember my mom said once, ‘Hey, it doesn’t help to worry, but having concern, you can. But let’s really take care of the things we can.’
“I do think we can do everything possible when it comes to the discipline of our own health. Now, there could still be an unfortunate encounter of which you do not know and may not be within 6 feet. Maybe something that you touched. … You’ve just got to do the best you can within what you can do.”
Asked if any specifics limitations had impacted his team, Calhoun responded vaguely.
“We’re going to have some hurdles,” he said. “We have had hurdles and we will have hurdles. I think it’s naïve not to think that would not happen, either. Hopefully it does not. You’ve also got to be realistic, too.”