A Committee of Wide Receivers?
Can Brandon Lewis get the touches to be 2021’s Chad Hall?
We are just 56 days away from the Falcon’s season opener against Lafayette, in Colorado Springs. As we approach the official start to the college football season, there are just four position group previews remaining.
The defense has been completely covered, while tight ends and the offensive line have started the offensive previews. You can check all of them out here if you missed anything. Now today, were going to talk about those Air Force Wide Receivers.
You can’t quantify the value of an Air Force wide-out by their statistics alone. Recent graduate, Ben Peterson is a perfect example of that. Peterson was as reliable of a blocker as they come, and in the Falcon’s triple option offense, the ability to block is probably the most critical attribute required of any receiver who expects to see the field regularly.
Also gone to graduation is the physically imposing Daniel Morris. Another steady blocker on the outside, Morris could of been mistaken for a tight end. Corbin Blanchard of similar stature also graduated, though didn’t see the same amount of playing time.
In the 2020 shortened campaign, these seniors accounted for 10 grabs, Peterson while garnering three of them, averaged over 30 yards a catch. So while the pass catching production should be replaceable (maybe not at 30 YPC), the more important duty that is going to have to be assumed is the blocking. And that is an area that Peterson and Morris excelled in.
There are a few familiar faces returning for this season, as well as some new ones who receivers coach, Ari Confesor will be working with to make sure the offense hits on all cylinders.
Big Play from Madison Alumni Brandon Lewis for Air Force ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/dni59Bf2o4
— San Diego Football (@Daygofootball) November 21, 2020
Air Force has been fortunate to have reliable receivers who fit their scheme, seemingly year after year. Every so often they have an elite talent like Chad Hall, Jalen Rowell (Robinette) or Geraud Sanders and Ben Waters most recently, who all were impact playmakers.
Brandon Lewis doesn’t have the statistics matching those predecessors yet, but the potential is there. Similar to Chad Hall, Brandon Lewis may carve a niche for himself getting carries as a slot back, as well as doing damage in the pass game.
With no clearly established ball carrier on the edges, Lewis proved when given the opportunity, he was a versatile threat, capable of getting to the outside. Last season when Kadin Remsberg went down with an injury, Brandon Lewis stepped up in a major way.
This is important to note because his ability as a runner is a complement to his ability as a receiver. It’s no coincidence that Lewis earned playing time as a freshman, and at nine yards per touch, the offense will likely find a multitude of ways to get the ball in his hands. Expect a very special senior season from this young man.
Receivers do it all at Air Force! Don't be afraid to be the Best in all parts of your game. Nothing better then striking up the Band with a big score. #FinishInThePaint ⚡️⚡️⚡️✈️
— Ari Confesor (@CoachAC3) March 26, 2021
If your looking for receptions, yards or touchdowns as an indicator for experience, your not going to find much of it on the Falcons roster beyond Brandon Lewis. There are however, quite a few guys who have been part of the program and are very familiar with the scheme they are expected to execute.
Jake Spiewak, Deandre Hughes, Eric Wills II, Logan Mann and Amari Terry have all been with the program for a few years now, some seeing more time than others. Senior Jake Spiewak saw action last year, recording a catch and brings a pretty nice catch radius in his 6′ 4″ frame.
This is where things can get interesting. Micah Davis was a freshman last year, showed up on the depth chart and even got a little bit of playing time. Even in a season as crazy as last, a freshman skill position player getting a jersey for the Falcons warrants attention.
Speaking of 2020 freshman; there were two 3-star prospects that committed to Air Force in last years recruiting class, Cameron Everts and Seth Meador. While Everts has already left the program, Meador saw the field last year, and the offense looked to fancy having him stretch the field in his limited play.
You can’t talk receiver at Colorado Springs without mentioning David Cormier. It seems like every year Cormier is earmarked as a potential breakout player, but for a variety of reasons, most recently a 2020 turnback, we’ve not gotten to see what this young man can really do.
Talk to anyone around the Air Force program, and you are going to get a very consistent and confident endorsement of Cormiers ability to be the next big receiver for the Falcons. You can take the term “big” very literally too, as he comes in that Marcus Bennett or Geraud Sanders variety of 6′ 3″ 220 pound target.
2020 vs. 2021 PROJECTED
The Air Force receiving corp isn’t going to be the first thing that opposing defenses are scheming to stop. History would suggest their lulling the defense with down after down blocking pays off with big play production. And every so often, they have players who are legitimate playmakers on the outside, and not just “by Air Force standards”.
Highest-graded Mountain West players last season:
1. Geraud Sanders, Air Force – 91.4
2. Curtis Weaver, Boise St – 91.0
3. Logan Wilson, Wyoming – 90.6
4. Scott Hattok, Air Force – 90.5
5. Warren Jackson, CSU – 90.1
6. Dom Peterson, Nevada – 89.9 pic.twitter.com/Qs7j0cITEw
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 10, 2020
Ben Waters, Geraud Sanders and Jalen Rowell (Robinette) all led the country in yards per reception. Waters would have an asterisk by that statistic because he didn’t qualify with enough catches, despite gaining nearly 700 receiving yards and seven touchdowns while averaging almost 30 yards per catch.
The Falcons recruit their players, and they develop them well. That’s why you quietly see this type of production pretty regularly from their receivers. In 2021, it’s not outlandish to think David Cormier and Brandon Lewis can be the next rendition of the Waters and Sanders tandem which earned them All-Conference attention.
As the passing game goes, the current roster of receivers pose what appears a more formidable one. The key will be seeing how effective they are blocking in the run game because that will be the call to duty most often.
Even if its not Cormier and Lewis specifically, there are a number of combinations of players that could step up to complement run game and restore the threat of a well-timed passing attack. Having Brad Roberts chewing up yards on the ground and Kyle Patterson gutting teams down field between the hashes, we could be looking at another “pick your poison” skill group that really opens up the pass game for their wide-outs. And when the Falcons have a passing attack to complement the ground game, it means there are some very long days for opposing defenses.