I heard about tailback Jon Lee’s exploits at the prep school well before he practiced with Air Force (anyone around the program had heard about him; he had a great year there), and then he backed up that hype when he got to the academy. He was impressive in his first training camp. He has a great burst and nice big-play ability. It was understandable he didn’t play much last year – he was a freshman, and for the most part no other tailback played behind durable and productive Asher Clark.
With Clark gone, I figured Lee would get his shot. He was getting a lot of reps early on in spring because of injuries, but when I asked coach Troy Calhoun about him, the first thing he mentioned was a fumble he had in practice and how much work Lee has to do. On the final day of spring practice, Lee broke a run that was electrifying, making a first defender miss and then getting deep into the secondary. Later on he made outside linebacker Alex Means – possibly the Falcons’ best defensive player – miss on the goal line and plunged into the end zone. That didn’t change Calhoun’s tone either.
“He’s got a ways to go,” Calhoun said, in a nearly despondent tone.
I understand coaches don’t want younger players feeling like anything is being handed to them. That’s a core philosophy at Air Force. And I’m sure Lee has a ton to work on with the finer points of the game. But it’ll be interesting to see what happens with him in training camp, when things get serious.
The Falcons moved Wes Cobb to tailback, which makes sense given the absolute lack of experience and depth at the position. Cobb is a good, reliable runner and will do fine in that role. During August we should get a little better idea whether Cobb will be a Clark-type workhorse, or if the talented Lee – who scored a 49-yard touchdown run on his first career carry – will be given a shot at significant carries when the season begins.