With two tailbacks with different styles, Air Force will have the luxury this season of shuffling its backfield to keep opponents off-balance.
Kade Remsberg is the burner, a former track standout who has recorded 40-yard dash times of 4.31 seconds. Most of his yardage came on the edges last year when he sprinted into the starting lineup as a sophomore, averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
Josh Stoner also offers plenty of speed with a 4.4 40, but he also packs about 15 more pounds .
“He’s a little bigger,” Falcons running backs coach Ben Miller said of Stoner. “He’s got a little more power than a Kade. But he does give you a little bit of speed and he’s got a little bit more forward lean, a little more butt and power.”
The running back picture does not stop with the pair of juniors. Senior Nolan Eriksen has started a game each of the past two seasons, rushing for 329 yards on 61 carries for a 5.4 average and two touchdowns.
There’s also a pack of young players vying for a shot, as the run-heavy Falcons never lack for numbers at the running back positions.
Air Force has given two tailbacks at least 40 carries in seven consecutive seasons, so the quest for a No. 2 behind Remsberg figures to account for far more than simply a name on a depth chart.
Stoner spent the past week working at slot receiver, a spot that often mirrors the tailback in Air Force’s offensive formations. The coaching staff said that move shouldn’t be seen as a sign Stoner isn’t a contender for a large role at tailback, but rather a move to prepare him to get on the field .
“I think anytime you cross-train a guy, that’s a pretty good indication we think that’s a guy who can be a pretty good player for us,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “Key for him is this is the healthiest he’s been. He’s got to stay that way. He’s got to be a guy who stays on the field.”
Added Miller, “I think it says a lot about him as a player, being able to understand the concepts and having the athletic ability to do multiple things for us.”
Remsberg likes the idea of sharing carries with Stoner, either with Stoner lining up in the slot or subbing in at tailback.
“I think we’re going to play great together,” he said. “We’re going to bring different things to the field. He’s by far one of the most athletic guys on the team. Once he gets the reps and starts showing out, people are going to know that he needs to get the ball more.”
Stoner certainly hopes that’s the case after just two carries over his first two seasons.
“Me and Kade are good friends, so we just try to make each other better any way we can,” said Stoner, a native of Columbus, Ohio. “We are built a little differently, but we’re running the same scheme.”