Previewing The Air Force Wide Receivers
Cadets led by new Wide Receivers coach, Ari Confessor
An all new wide receiver corps
At Air Force, a single increase in the win column this season would all but guarantee a Bowl appearance for the Falcons in 2019. If you are of the optimists who see an increase in win total for the Cadets coming, the returning starters and contributors with game experience are likely reasons.
The wide receiver corps, however, would not be one of the positions that returns as a proven commodity this year. In fact, there are only two wideouts on the team’s roster that even registered a catch last season in Geraud Sanders and Brandon Lewis.
Neither of which recorded a touchdown. On top of that, they are also led by a new position coach, Ari Confessor who previously coached at the FBS level for Holy Cross.
Even with their run dominant approach, receivers are key components to the offense. A lot is required of them in the Air Force scheme, in particular blocking. They have also been counted on routinely to contribute as runners as well. Fortunately, personnel turnover is a common churn at the Academy. Perhaps the next Jalen Robinette is on this roster. Probably not, Robinette was a generational talent for the Academy. Nevertheless, that does not mean the locker room is absent potential.
Potential. Youth and Potential is how I would describe the 2019 receiving corps. We got a rare glimpse of a freshman contributing right away at Air Force last year in Brandon Lewis. As one of the two receivers on the roster to register a catch last season, he collected 100 yards on five catches. He did this while only playing in the final four games of the season.
The other returning contributor is a senior in Geraud Sanders, who hauled n 14 catches for 236 yards last season. Similar to the way Marcus Bennett stepped into the starting role vacated by Jalen Robinette, look for that to be Sanders.
Marcus Bennett did not have the career statistics that of Robinette, but he was a very effective receiver in this offense when he finally had the opportunity to shine. Sanders should have the same opportunity this year on what promises to be a more capable passing offense.
Recently the Falcons have offered a rotation of supporting receivers in their offense. This was both a product of their scheme, as well as capable personnel filling out the depth. Gone are Ronald Cleveland, Garrett Amy and Andrew Smith who occupied that capacity last year.
There is a host of promise waiting in the ranks for the opportunity to see the field. Four of them were recruited as three-star prospects in the last two recruiting classes; Deavyn Woullard and Xavier Guillroy from the 2019 class, alongside Malik Rodgers and David Cormier from the 2018 class.
Coming out of spring camp this year, there seems to be a lot of optimism around David Cormier. That optimism has been expressed directly from the newly arrived Confessor. Both Cormier and Sanders present big targets at 6 foot 3 inches.
Also putting in work and progressing at wideout are Luke Bohenek and Jake Spiewak. According to coach Confessor, they have been developing nicely.
Adding depth at slot receiver, Benjamin Waters has transitioned to the offensive side of the ball after playing defensive back last season. Garnering praise for his work also was Amari Terry. Ben Pederson closed out camp listed as a starting receiver on the 2019 prospectus. That depth chart projection won’t necessarily be reflected when the season kicks off, but it does serve as notice that repetitions were had by Pederson.
The players in the mix at slot receiver are a little more unique in the way they are used. The slot receivers in the Air Force offense are likely to get as many if not more touches running the ball as they are catching passes.
If things go the way Air Force would like on the ground, it will allow time for the receiving corps to get acclimated at a much more desirable pace. At minimum, a level of efficiency on the ground should certainly create opportunities for the passing game, and receivers specifically, to expose teams who go all in to stop the run. It will be interesting to see who will contribute from this position.