Ari Confessor appreciated Troy Calhoun’s offer for a day to mull over his job offer, but he didn’t need it.
“I said, ‘Coach, tomorrow isn’t going to change anything,’” said Confessor, Air Force’s new receivers coach. “I’m coming to Colorado.”
Confessor said the no-brainer of a decision stemmed in part from his lifelong following of the Falcons that intensified when his brother, Jorge, enlisted in the Air Force after high school and served six years.
But two factors primarily carried the decision — it was a chance to move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision after a career as a player and coach at the Football Championship Subdivision level, and the varied responsibilities of Air Force’s receiver positions would be unlike anything he had experienced.
“I just coached receivers and everybody had the same job description,” he said. “You’re on the perimeter, you run your routes, you catch the ball, you get up field.
“Here, our (slot receivers) take a handoff, block inside. It’s different teaching from my standpoint, but it’s great development because now I’m coaching essentially two positions and it will make me a better coach and I hope I make these guys better players.”
Confessor said the varied ways Air Force’s receivers are involved in the offense will ease his transition from a spread offense at Holy Cross to the Falcons’ run-heavy option attack. That, and when the Falcons do throw it often leads to a big play.
Also, unlike Air Force’s past two receivers coaches Derek Lewis, who played at Florida, and Taylor Stubblefield, who posted a record-breaking career at Purdue, Confessor sees this level as a major step up. His coaching experience includes stints at Holy Cross and Rhode Island with the exception of one year spent with the Kansas City Chiefs in the scouting department in 2012.
“I didn’t have any preconceived notion about how the kids were going to be, I just knew that, man, this is big-time ball with big-time athletes and now I need to come and do my job,” said Confessor, a two-time All-American as a player at Holy Cross who remains the program’s all-time leader with 2,352 career receiving yards, 2,267 career kickoff return yards and 5,370 career all-purpose yards.
Confessor raves about the players he has inherited at Air Force.
He said he has to remind himself that David Cormier is a freshman. “I’ve never seen a person physically look like that who played receiver,” he said. He loves the progress Luke Bohenek and Jake Spiewak have made at the wideout spot as well. As for his slot receivers, he calls Brandon Lewis “a very quick guy,” Ben Peterson “a little pit bull” and Amari Terry “dynamic as hell.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen, who is also breaking in yet another new tight ends coach, said Confessor is similar to Stubblefield as a technician who can teach the skills he once showed on the field.
“Coach Calhoun does a great job of finding guys who really fit what this place is and who we are; guys that are really good technicians in terms of teaching their craft,” Thiessen said.
“They’re good teachers. They know how to communicate. They come from a good background, they all played at a high level so they can draw from experiences. Obviously it’s a new offense for some of these guys what they haven’t been in, but what they’ve taught in their past carries over fundamentally. So they’ve got to learn the system a little bit, but when it comes to being good teachers and coaching their guys and being in charge with a room, they’re familiar.”
Confessor, who wears his hat slightly crooked and seems to have his energy level stuck at 11, said the biggest adjustment has been the frenetic pace of practice. But he’s adjusting and happy to have so many new tasks on his plate.
“You know, these opportunities are rare,” he said. “When I interviewed and met these guys, I saw what great people they were and I wanted to associate myself with a culture like this.”