The beginning of preseason practices didn’t open up with particularly good news for Air Force. It’s not simply that the Falcons are down five players, it’s that the handful was expected to major contributors this season.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun announced Friday that linebacker Jamil Cooks, receivers Brandon Hirneise and Mikel Hunter, tight end Devin Durden and safety Anthony Wooding are not with the team. Calhoun added that the five were not suspended, but aren’t on the roster.
“Right now, they’re not practicing, they’re not here,” Calhoun said, adding that the players were, however, still enrolled in the academy.
The Colorado Springs Gazette states that when players aren’t part of the team, it’s typically because of one of four reasons: a violation of the honor code, academics, military performance problems or a physical fitness issue.
Of the five, the absences of Cooks and Wooding may be felt most. Wooding was the team’s fifth-leading tackler last year with 57 tackles, with Cooks adding another 50. Hunter was the team’s third-leading receiver last year with 14 receptions for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns.