Clovis East linebacker/safety Jacob Tafoya announced his commitment to play college football at the Air Force Academy Thursday afternoon, becoming the Timberwolves’ first Division I football commit in over a decade.
In a Twitter post announcing his decision, a humble Tofoya stated: “The only expectation I ever had was to work my tail off to get a shot at the next level. The day has come where all my hard work has paid off.”
The versatile 6-foot-1 Tafoya is well-suited as a hybrid linebacker in John Rudzinski’s defense, with his ability to play down in the box as well as cover wide receivers.
“A player like [Tofoya] allows a team to do so much on defense,” said Clovis East head coach Ryan Reynolds. “His athleticism, body type and skillset will lead him to do great things at the next level.”
Not only was Air Force a good fit football-wise, but it had everything else Tofoya was looking for in a college.
“Their academics are top-notch, it’s a beautiful campus, and it will set me up for a greater future,” Tafoya said.
Along with his four years at the Air Force Academy – where there is currently no redshirt program in place – Tafoya will have a five-year obligation of active duty in the Air Force following graduation. His five years of service can be deferred, however, if he were to play professional football.
Tofoya asserts his college decision goes much further than football.
“Everyone has that dream of playing in the NFL, but that’s not always possible for everybody,” Tafoya explains. “By going to the Air Force, it opens up my options to much more than just on the field.”
Now more than ever, the football landscape looks murky. High school football in California has been postponed in 2020, as well as Mountain West football, where Air Force plays. The potential for a quick turnaround between a spring high school season and fall college season is a concern for many senior athletes and coaches.
Yet Tafoya does not hesitate when asked if he will play high school ball in the spring.
“My plan is to play my senior year, if we get that opportunity,” he asserts, “because nothing compares to high school football and playing in front of the home crowd.”
Tafoya might even get a taste of Air Force football if his final season plays out at Clovis East. Head coach Reynolds plans on moving to a flexbone offensive formation this upcoming season, the same formation Air Force runs.
The coach says Tafoya will see “a ton” of snaps at running back in the flexbone behind quarterback Sean Kelly, adding another position under his already crowded belt.
“If we do have a high school season, Air Force might see him and say, ‘Hmm, we need him at running back too,’” Reynolds adds with a chuckle.
Prior to Thursday, the Timberwolves did not have a Division I football commit since 2005, when Tracy Slocum committed to Cal.
Then came Jacob Tafoya, a player who breaks the mold as a player, and now ends the drought for Clovis East.