Arizona Bowl Football

Air Force defensive back Weston Steelhammer earns the defensive player of the game trophy after defeating South Alabama 45-21 during the Arizona Bowl NCAA college football game, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Weston Steelhammer became an instant sensation with Air Force after intercepting three passes in an upset of Boise State as a sophomore.

The legend simply grew from there.

Steelhammer picked off a program-record 18 passes, was a three-time first-team All-Mountain West selection and earned All-America accolades as a senior.

He went to an NFL minicamp with the Philadelphia Eagles after going undrafted when the Department of Defense abruptly changed its policy for service academy graduates at the last minute.

The Gazette caught up with him during the fall of 2017 in San Antonio.

Now, he's serving as a logistics officer at Joint Base San Antonio while taking evening classes and working out for a potential NFL career.

Steelhammer, who will join Jacob Onyechi, Jalen Robinette and Ryan Watson from his class at Pro Day at the academy on Monday, recently chatted with The Gazette's Brent Briggeman.

Q: Correct me if I'm wrong, but did I see on social media that you're in grad school now?

I am. I’m trying to take advantage of that free time I didn’t have here. I’m in San Antonio right now as a logistics officer.

Q: So you’re still in same job as when we last met, but you’re taking grad school classes on top of that?

I am. I’m taking it through Oklahoma State as part of their distance learning program, getting my MBA.

Q: When will you finish that?

Who knows? We’ll see what happens. I’m just trying to knock it out little by little.

Q: Time-wise, is that an evening thing?

Yes. All that time I had staring at the wall wasn’t as productive as getting my master’s. I finally came to my senses.

Sign Up for Pikes Peak 5

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

Success! Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Q: So you’re working 40 hour weeks for the Air Force, taking grad school classes and working out for a possible football career, are your days pretty full?

Yes, but nothing I wasn’t used to here. It almost felt weird having all that free time, so I had to fill it with something.

Q: How do you guys get your name out here at Pro Day?

That’s part of (the agents’) job is to help you out. Even though we’ve been away from the game for two years, they haven’t. So that helps. We have to do our part in showing the guys we’re still in shape, and then hopefully we’ll get a chance like we did two years ago and throw something at the wall and see if it sticks.

Q: Is it your understanding that you have to have a pro contract to move from active-duty to reserve status to pursue this? Is that the stipulation?

It is and it isn’t. I know that’s a bad answer, but going through all the paperwork and whatnot it’s a case-by-case basis and they handle it individually. We’ll all go through our respective chain of command and handle our individual circumstances as they come.

Q: What if it wasn’t the NFL, but was instead one of these new leagues like the AAF or XFL?

We’ll see. I don’t know. The big thing for me is I’m not going to close the door until it’s closed for me. Everything happens for a reason, I’m a big believer in that. I’m going to give it a shot and take it step by step.

Q: Is the paperwork black in white in that you either go on reserves or you stay on active duty and there’s not a gray area where you can kind of wait and see?

I think it’s more gray than black and white, honestly. Like I said, it’s case-by-case, so it could be handled one way with one individual and another with another just depending on how their case is different. But that avenue is there for us if things present themselves. I’m excited about it, and I know the other guys are too.

Q: Why did you decide to come back here to do it?

This is what got us to where we are. We all decided to come back. This place got us to where we are, we’re comfortable and we know the folks. Some of us came up here to train and polish up on some things a couple days beforehand and try to give it our best shot. We all started this thing together and we’re going to finish it together.

Q: Are you measuring better or worse after two years?

It’s a little bit of both. Some things are better, some things are worse. It’s hard to simulate playing football when you’re not playing football, but taking those two years off for everything you can find that it hurts you can also find ways that it helps. I think all the guys are probably the same in that it’s helped some things, hurt some things but it is what it is. Football aside, on active duty we’re getting a chance to do things no one else gets to do, and you’re doing it at such a young age. It’s been a good two years.

Sign Up for Pikes Peak 5

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

Success! Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Load comments