Yesterday, the Air Force Academy and head coach Troy Calhoun received a verbal commitment from Zach Missimo. While the news isn’t exactly going to make headlines outside of Colorado Springs, the Plano, Texas defensive end is among a growing list of talented 2013 commits for the Falcons.
Recruiting at a military academy is more unique than any other program in college athletics. Every recruit goes in knowing that they will be challenged more in the classroom and in terms of personal discipline than they will be on the football field. Add in the military commitment after graduation and you have an idea of the caliber of prospect being targeted.
Air Force is not just going after players who can win a game. They are going after players who must eventually lead airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines.
What this means for Calhoun each and every week is that his squad is going to be at an athletic disadvantage. Ruling out last week’s FCS game against Idaho State, Air Force has the challenge of staying competitive while being hamstrung by those pesky academic and character requirements.
Glancing at the 2013 class, the Falcons have done remarkably well. Headlining the group is all purpose back Trent Holmes. The Cypress, Texas athlete is given three stars by 247sports.com.
Joining Holmes in the future backfield of Air Force is quarterback Dominique Allen out of Richmond Hill, Ga. Recruiting services give Allen high marks for his running ability, which will be needed in the triple option attack the USAFA employs.
On defense, in-state linebacker Patrick Healy of perennial power Mullen High School has the potential to eventually be the backbone of the Air Force front seven. Add in Missimo and Calhoun has himself a budding core for future Mountain West offenses to tangle with.
Watching Missimo on film, his instincts and ability to pursue the ball-carrier are evident. During one game, the defensive end consistently swatted pass attempts and fought off double teams with great success.
While no neutral observer would ever put an Air Force recruiting class in the upper echelon of college football, the program is luring two- and three-star rated talent into a nontraditional environment.
Calhoun has to deal with a severe lack of depth and size with each new class. Overcoming this disadvantage is what makes the Academy’s five consecutive winning seasons so impressive. Couple that with Calhoun having to replace legendary coach Fisher DeBerry.
Winning at a military academy requires the highest level of player development and scouting. There simply isn’t room for error.
Calhoun’s 2013 class is yet another stepping stone toward a destined bowl game.
Just to the east of Pike’s Peak sits Falcon Stadium on the Air Force Academy campus. The view is incredible, for those who have yet to see it. The team on the field isn’t looking too bad either.
James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America
You can follow James on Twitter as well.