Air Force hosts a Pro Day every year, giving its senior football players a chance as their last act as academy athletes to make a first impression with NFL scouts.
But this year’s Pro Day figures to be different, and not just because it has a headliner in Jalen Robinette.
Academy graduates have a new option of playing sports professionally immediately instead of first serving at least 24 months on active duty. This, combined with a deep senior class that includes Robinette has added weight to the event. More than a dozen NFL scouts figure to be on hand, whereas previous years saw maybe three or four. There has been no media coverage of the event over the past four years, but this year more than 10 media outlets reached out to the academy about access.
In short, the stakes have been raised. And the academy has welcomed the attention.
“Any vehicle where we can get people to better understand this incredible academy that we’re all a part of is certainly great for both the academy and for our nation,” athletic director Jim Knowlton said.
Much of the attention has centered on Robinette, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver who participated in a pair of all-star games (East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl) and became the first Falcon in more than 20 years to earn an invitation to the NFL Combine.
The official Air Force football Twitter account has promoted Robinette’s offseason journey in a departure from the academy’s previous stance to largely stay quiet when it comes to mentioning a player’s pro prospects.
“Want to be a leader in the Air Force & play in the @NFL? Well, @Jalen Robinette is doing this!” the account wrote as it shared a link to a television story on Robinette’s Combine preparation.
Knowlton said there wasn’t a directive in the department to promote players and their professional pursuits, but at the same time he doesn’t feel this is at odds with the academy’s purpose. That mission, he said, is to develop leaders of character to serve the Air Force and…