Zach Bohannon’s recent departure from the Air Force Academy got me thinking about one of the most painful transfers in AFA sports history:
Middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel.
Schlegel arrived at the academy in 2001 as a lightly recruited career at Highland Park, a suburb of Dallas. National powers didn’t want him. The big-time schools considered him too slow.
Schlegel proved the powers wrong. In 2002, his sophomore season, he collected 118 tackles. He was on his way to one of the most dominating defensive careers in Air Force history.
But he couldn’t handle the wide – make that extremely wide – array of rules at the academy.
“I grew tired of playing the games there,” Schlegel told me in early 2003. “When football is the only thing making you happy, there is something wrong.”
So he transferred to Ohio State.
Schlegel’s departure is one of the big what-ifs of Air F.orce football history. If he had remained, the 2003 and 2004 seasons might have been much different.
Instead, Schlegel starred for the Buckeyes for two seasons before being drafted in the third round by the New York Jets in 2006. He played for the Jets and the Bengals from 2006 to 2008.
Athletic director Hans Mueh was laughing recently while he talked about Schlegel.
“I worked harder to keep Anthony here than any cadet in my 30-plus years,” Mueh said. “Not because he was a great football player, but because I loved his spirit. He was the kind of guy who could be a (Navy) Seal. He had that kind of in-your-face confidence.
“He’d go home to Texas on spring break and hunt wild boar with a knife. That was Anthony Schlegel. He was incredible.
“He was a free spirit, ok, and the infractions at the academy in my mind were minor. They were just sort of mischievous.”
Mueh wondered what had happened to Schlegel, and with a little internet searching I was able to find the answer.
He was hired in January as the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Ohio State, his alma mater.