Here is the Air Force recruiting class as pieced together by The Gazette. The academy is not allowed to release a list of players who have committed (they don’t technically sign on “Signing Day”), so this is cobbled together from various recruting sites like Rivals, Scout and 247sports as well as social media and other sources.
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AIR FORCE RECRUITING CLASS
Alex Backenstoe DE/TE/FB, 6-1, 230, Hilliard, Ohio (Hilliard Davidson)
With 4.75 speed in 40-yard dash, a 300-pound bench press and 485 squat, he’s got the tools to provide toughness in a variety of positions, which is what he did in high school, playing a hybrid position that was once manned by Michigan starter Keith Heitzman. He said Air Force’s weight room was a major draw, saying it compared favorably with the few Big Ten weight rooms he had visited.
Brody Bagnall OLB, 6-3, 230, Vancouver, Wash. (Evergreen HS)
Had offers from several FCS schools in the Pacific Northwest. Could play linebacker or move up to a defensive end spot. Lists GPA at 3.8. Can run a 4.7 40 and boasts a 36-inch vertical leap.
Byron Baker LB, 6-2, 220, San Jose, Calif. (Valley Christian HS)
Played tight end and defensive end in football as well as power forward in basketball. Was named the MVP in his league, helping a defense that held four opponents to 10 or fewer points.
Jake Barnhorst OL, 6-4, 250, Cincinnati (Sycamore HS)
Two time all-academic honoree in his league and a first-team performer as a senior. Runs a 5.1 40. Member of the National Honor Society.
John Batch DB, 5-11, 180, Merritt Island, Fla.
A punishing hitter in the defensive secondary. Runs the 40 in 4.4, making him the fastest recruit in the class. Made 104 tackles last season with four interceptions.
Marcus Bennett WR, 5-11, 170, Marietta, Ga.
Finished in the top three in his high school’s history in receptions and receiving yards. Also was the county long jump champion. Owns a 3.9 GPA and is a leader of the Young Organizers United to Help.
Oliver Black DB, 5-9, 175, Miami (Westminster Christian School)
Tremendous strength for a defensive back (315-pound bench press, 455-pound squat) and looks a little like Air Force safety Christian Spears in pads. Lacks elite speed (4.61 40), but shows a knack for the ball and seems to have speed that translates onto the field.
Dillon Browne OG, 6-4, 240, Tampa, Fla. (Freedom HS)
It is believed his frame could take him up to 275 pounds. Also held an offer from Western Kentucky. Lists running time at 4.81 in the 40. Has a “weighted” GPA of 4.9.
Robert Bullard DB, 5-9, 180, Covington, Ga. (Alcovy HS)
Extreme strength with a 515-pound squat and a knack for the ball as a cornerback. Could likely profile as a kick or punt returner as well.
Tyler Carver FB, 6-0, 230, Frisco, Texas (Wakeland HS)
Can bench press 375 pounds. Played linebacker and fullback. Other interested schools included Navy and Rice.
Levi Cecil DT, 6-4, 265, Longmont (Silver Creek)
The in-state recruit made 69 tackles, earning all-state honors. According to PrepColorado.com, he received the offer on a Thursday afternoon and made the commitment that evening. He does not come from a military background.
Nick Colson TE, 6-4, 225, Gilbert, Ariz. (Higley HS)
Will go on two-year LDS mission and enroll in 2016. Caught 60 passes for 1,079 yards and 10 touchdowns. Had offers from several Division 1 programs, including Nevada.
David Collins S, 6-1, 185, Smyrna, Ga. (Campbell HS)
A 4.4 40 runner who can run the 300 hurdles in 41.9 seconds.
Keenan Curran ATH, 6-2, 170, Federal Way, Wash.
Flipped commitment from San Jose State to Air Force in late January. Also had an offer from Wyoming. An athlete who plays multiple skill positions on offense and at free or strong safety defensively.
Ryan Darby DE, 6-2, 255, Houston (Westbury Christian HS)
High school coach was Charlie Ward, the Heisman Trophy winner at FloridaState. An explosive player off the end. Runs the 40 in 4.9.
Zach Davies DT, 6-2, 245, Austin, Texas (Lake Travis)
Recorded 11 sacks as a senior for a defense that allowed just 14.3 points per game and went 12-2, falling in Texas’s Class 5A Division II playoffs to the eventual state champion. One of his high school teammates has committed to Texas A&M, others to Columbia and Harvard.
Josh Davis DL, 6-3, 270, Cumming, Ga. (West Forsyth HS)
Had an offer from Navy, according to Scout.com, which also indicated interest from Michigan State and Tennessee. Rated as No. 105 offensive guard, should he play on that side of the ball.
Peyton Dole LB, 6-4, 225, Eagle Point, Ore.
Also a basketball player. Possesses 4.6 speed in the 40. A quality high school tight end, Air Force envisions Dole gaining 10-15 pounds and contributing early at outside linebacker.
Nasiir Edwards DB, 5-10, 200, Lithonia, Ga. (Arabia Mountain HS)
Perhaps the best all-around athlete in the class, with a 4.52 40, 38-inch vertical and 505-pound squat. Jumped on recruiter’s radar with a 4.25 shuttle time, but Air Force proved to be his only offer. A recruit of former assistant Charlton Warren.
Jason Elenberger ATH, 6-0, 175, Carmichael, Calif. (Jesuit)
His high school background – speedy receiver-turned quarterback – suggests he’s in the mold of Air Force quarterback Kale Pearson, just perhaps a tick taller and a tick slower. With a sidearm style he threw for 25 touchdowns as a senior, his only year to see regular time at the spot. His academic credentials form a long list and he has been a high school class president.
Jack Flor LB, 6-2, 210, Seattle (O’Dea HS)
Held offers from Army and Wyoming. Scout.com lists ranks him No. 77 among middle linebackers. Had 103 tackles – including 11 for loss and five sacks – and ran for 773 yards and 12 touchdowns on 75 carries as an all-league performer at linebacker and fullback. Also plays basketball and runs track.
Nicholas George OL, 6-2, 270, Green Cove Springs, Fla. (Clay HS)
According to 247sports.com he held offers from, among others, Army and Marshall. Played for the 5A Florida runner-up, earning All-North Florida and all-county honors.
the 5A Florida runner-up, earning All-North Florida and all-county honors.
Mike Gibas OL, 6-3, 275, Hampshire, Ill.
Turned down opportunity to play for Miami (Fla.) as a preferred walk-on. Helped an offense that ran for 2,045 yards and threw for 1,091 yards this past season. Serves as his class president. Lists time in the 40 at 4.9.
Melvin Gowl OL, 6-3, 260, Severn, Md. (Spalding HS)
Can play tight end, offensive line or several spots in the box on defense. Also a lacrosse player and wrestler. An all-state selection in football.
Brandon Gurley DB, 5-10, 175 Huntsville, Ala. (Madison County HS)
An elite high school playmaker at receiver, defensive back and in the return game. Had offers from Alabama-Birmingham and Western Kentucky.
Cole Hansen OT, 6-4, 280, Derby, Kan.
The recruiting class’s biggest body and boasts a 360-pound hang clean. A first-team 6A All-State selection in Kansas for a team known as a traditional power.
Seth Hill DB, 5-9, 155, Columbus, Ohio (Worthington Kilbourne HS)
Quick (4.5 40) corner who received his first offer from Air Force and later apparently garnered interest from Navy and Purdue. Served as kick and punt returner while playing both ways.
Malcolm Hills DE, 6-4, 260, Jacksonville, Fla.
Made 24 tackles this past season, including two for a loss in his final game.
Tanner Hughes RB, 6-1, 215, El Dorado Hills, Calif. (Oak Ridge HS)
Tough runner at fullback, he committed to the Falcons in August. Lists his 40 time at 4.52 and vertical leap at 33.9 inches.
Matt Jacques DE, 6-4, 240, Encino, Calif. (Crespi Carmelite HS)
Had committed in July to Fresno State, which he chose over San Jose State, before switching to Air Force late in the process. Could also fit it in at tight end, where he caught 20 passes as a senior.
Daniel Khan WR, 5-11, 160, Sherman Oaks, Calif. (Notre Dame)
Held offers from virtually everyone in the Ivy League. Told Scout.com that academics were the most important factor, but he also wanted to be a contributor. Caught 61 passes for 954 yards and 11 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons
Alex Kofskey TE, 6-6, 250, Huntsville, Alabama (RandolphSchool HS)
Plays football, basketball and baseball. Lined up at receiver, tight end and defensive end. Runs the 40 in 4.7, carries a 4.06 GPA and has been on dean’s list each semester. His grandfather was a brigadier general in the Air Force.
Jalil Kuku OLB, 5-11, 195, Kennesaw, Ga. (North Cobb HS)
Had offers from Air Force and several FCS teams. Carries all the measurables: 4.5 speed, 450-pound squat, 325-pound bench press and 38-inch vertical. Had 12 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks as a junior.
Jake LaCoste RB, 5-9, 200, West Albany, Ore.
Led West Albany to its first state title since 2008 – when his brother Anthony, an Air Force standout, was leading the way. Ran for an eye-popping 7,462 yards and 96 touchdowns in his prep career.
Matt Lawler TE, 6-6, 220, Ramona, Calif.
Ranked as the No. 94 tight end in the nation. Sees his strength as a blocker. Also plays basketball and volleyball. Chose Air Force over an offer from San Diego State.
Zack Lindsey FB, 5-10, 219, Redlands, Calif. (Redlands Senior HS)
A member of his school’s gifted and talented program and a 2012 Scholar Athlete Award recipient. Lists architecture as a potential major.
Boadie Matts FB, 6-1, 240, Jacksonville, Fla. (Sandalwood HS)
Primarily used as a lead blocker at fullback and at middle linebacker. Has also played center. Air Force coaches were attracted to his physical style and offered him last spring.
Darion McElhannon RB, 6-0, 185, San Antonio (Johnson HS)
Elite speed (4.5 40, 10-9 100) and a member of the National Honor Society who lists engineering as a potential major. All-district selection.
Ernie McQuade OL, 6-2, 270, Aledo, Texas
Likely profiles as a center. Runs the 40 in 5.6, benches 300 pounds and squats 465 pounds. All-State selection.
Zephaniah Miller QB, 5-11, 175, Pickerington, Ohio (Pickerington HS North)
Dual-threat quarterback also considered Morehead State, Mountain Union, St. Francis (Pa.) and Siena Heights, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Led his team to an 8-2 record this past season.
Matt Moskowitz P, 5-11, 180, Milton, Ga.
Was listed just outside of the top 100 in the national punter’s ranking system. Online highlights include a 79-yard punt with 5.0-second hang time.
John Oliver QB, 6-3, 205, Woodstock, Ga. (Etowah HS)
A dual-threat quarterback and another recruit of Charlton Warren, he chose Air Force over Army and Charleston Southern. A tidbit from GoBlackKnights.com provides a glimpse into his personality – he missed the chance to watch the Army/Air Force game (the two teams recruiting him) this past year so he could go hunting with his dad.
Hayden Owen OG, 6-3, 270, Lindale, Ga. (Pepperell HS)
Only other FBS offer came from Georgia State, which is Air Force’s Week 2 opponent. He is listed as the nation’s No. 135 guard according to 247sports.com, though differentiating between high school players – particularly at that position – is often a futile effort when going that deep.
Will Patterson DE, 6-4, 265, El Paso, Texas (Burges HS)
Was recruited by each of the service academies before selecting Air Force.
Video: None available
Tyler Rapp C, 6-0, 270, The Woodlands, Texas
Helped his team to a 10-3 record. One of 25 finalists from the Houston area for a scholar-athlete award. Says Air Force coaches plan to keep him at center.
James (JC) Rast OT, 6-4, 275, San Antonio (Johnson HS)
Held offers from Army, Navy, several Ivy League programs and New Mexico State. The Army writer for Rivals.com listed Rast as a “heavy Army lean” prior to Rast’s in-home visit with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.
Ryan Reffitt WR, 6-5, 205, Galloway, Ohio (Hilliard Bradley)
Caught 27 passes and picked off three passes as a two-way player during his senior year. Showed a go-over-the-defender style with his tall frame, as indicated by a nickname that is apparently, “The Tree.” Also plays baseball and basketball. Earned scholar athlete award and was his school’s homecoming king.
C.J. Riazzi TE, 6-3, 215, Churmiwade, Ohio (Chaminade-Julienne HS)
Caught 54 passes for 834 yards this past year. Runs a 4.5 40 and has a 35-inch vertical leap.
Antanas Riskus DE, 6-4, 240, Darien, Ill. (Hinsdale South HS)
Told Scout.com that coaches would like to see him grow to about 260 pounds. Plans to some day go into politics.
Miles Rivera OT, 6-6, 240, Longmont
Helped the Trojans to a 7-3 record and made a big play defensively to send the team to the playoffs. Was named to the Denver Post’s all-Colorado team.
Michael Shaw OL, 6-3, 270, Creekview, Ga.
Lists his 40 time at 4.7, which is quick considering his size. Was a first-team all-county selection twice and played in the 2013 Northwest Georgia All-Star Bowl.
Jacob Sipes WR, 6-5, 185, Oak Ridge, Calif.
Caught 40 passes for 387 yards as a senior. Played a little quarterback as a sophomore. Has career track bests of 10.94 in the 100, 22.34 in the 200, 49.72 in the 400 and 37.77 in the 300 hurdles – so he could help more than one Air Force program if he’s interested.
Andrew Smith ATH, 5-8, 160, Gainesville, Ga. (North Hall HS)
Ran for 1,057 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior. Regional player of the year.
Darelle Smith ATH, 6-0, 178, Fleming Island, Fla.
Held offers from Holy Cross, Lafayette and Lehigh. Runs the 100 in 11.1 seconds, but it’s his shifty moves that make him look even faster. Played receiver and defensive back in high school.
Emmanuel Soto WR, 6-1, 170, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (University School)
Was offered by Purdue, Central Florida, Hawaii and Marshall, among others. Runs a 4.85 40.
Caine Watlington S, 6-0, 190, Clarkston, Mich.
Caught 40 passes for 694 yards and six touchdowns as a slot receiver in helping team to first state title in school history. Made 62 tackles with three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Carter Wilson WR, 5-11, 185, Warren, Mich. (De La Salle Collegiate)
Runs a 4.5 40. Played cornerback and receiver in high school. Reports a 27 on the ACT.
Alec Wirtjes QB/TE, 6-4, 190, Colorado Springs (Discovery Canyon)
The only local recruit out of the group. He might eventually settle in as a tight end if quarterback doesn’t work out. Led the Thunder to an 18-4 record over the past two seasons.
Aaron Zanin-Banks WR, 5-11, 170, Las Vegas (Las Vegas HS)
Caught 72 passes for 1,159 yards and 15 touchdowns this past season, helping his team to the region semifinals. A sprinter in track, he has posted times of 11.44 in the 100, 23.28 in the 200 and 52.24 in the 400.