Kade Waguespack grew a little impatient in the end zone last week. But, come on, he had waited a long time and given up a whole lot of good food to reach that moment.
Eventually, the slow-developing play came to a conclusion with Air Force quarterback Isaiah Sanders rolling to his right and hitting the junior tight end for his first-career touchdown.
“You get that wide open and you want to hop around and wave your hands,” said Waguespack, who hauled in the 12-yard pass for his first reception of the season and third of his career. “But you kind of just have to sit back and wait for that quarterback to finally turn his eyes and see you.
“I was a little antsy.”
If there was such thing as a traditional career progression for an Air Force player, it would be the one Waguespack has followed — even if he came from a nontraditional spot for a Falcon.
Coming from Gonzales, La. — about halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans — he attended Air Force’s prep school, saw no action as a freshman, moved his way up to the No. 2 spot as a sophomore and then was a late-season injury replacement, drawing his first start.
Now, in a season in which position uncertainty has followed Air Force at most offensive positions, Waguespack has joined guard Griffin Landrum as the only players seemingly cemented in their spots on that side of the ball.
“He’s been a guy who has clearly shown he’s No. 1,” first-year tight ends coach Nick Jones said. “In our room, on the field, in the weight room, every phase, he’s earned that right.”
Waguespack is careful to draw a distinction between being secure and being comfortable. Just like with that touchdown at Florida Atlantic — one that briefly brought the Falcons within five points in the second half of a 33-27 loss — he grew even more nervous by being so open because he figured a defender was on the way. It’s a little like that at his position.
“I’m secure in the sense that I know where I’m at, but I never get complacent for sure,” he said. “The two guys behind me, Rhett Myers and Les Dalger, they push me every day.”
The 6-foot-2, 228-pound NASCAR fan carries a similar background to the last starter the Falcons plucked from Louisiana — safety Weston Steelhammer — in that he was first a baseball player. Waguespack was a centerfielder and leadoff hitter who considered college baseball before opting for the shorter season and a sport he simply enjoyed more.
He found Air Force when former assistant Blane Morgan visited his school, saw his game film and invited him to a summer camp. Now a civil engineering major, Waguespack committed shortly after, opting for the Falcons over an in-state FCS offer from Nicholls State.
He has since tried to spread the word to others in his area to try to open the recruiting lines with the Falcons.
Coach Troy Calhoun said the emergence of Waguespack and Steelhammer doesn’t necessarily mean a new, fertile spot has been identified.
“For us, we’re going to go anywhere,” said Calhoun, who described Waguespack as “skilled and bright-eyed.” “If there’s somebody on a pipeline right where Alaska goes into Canada, we’re going to go there.”
The only problem in coming to Colorado Springs for Waguespack has been the food. He’s from the “Jambalaya Capital of the World,” and he hasn’t found anything that comes close to meeting his standards here.
He gets by on a recipe that can be made in a slow cooker with smoked sausage from home and white beans. Aside from that, he said his parents generally bring frozen food when they visit, then his mom spends time at his sponsor family’s house cooking Cajun meals that she’ll leave in the freezer.
“That’s kind of how I survive,” he said.
And, of course, a starting role and a touchdown to his credit helps as well. So does the weather.
“Since getting here, I haven’t looked back,” Waguespack said. “It’s been a nice ride, I’m not going to lie. Getting out of the humidity has been a blessing.”