AFA grad keeps NFL hopes alive


Aaron Kirchoff making a fool of the woeful New Mexico Lobos during a 2008 game. (AF photo/Dennis Rogers)

One Air Force officer is hoping hours in the gym each day could mean a trip to the NFL Combine — and the revival of a dream to play pro ball.

Aaron Kirchoff, a 2009 graduate of the Academy, is a second lieutenant with the 50th Comptroller Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. He said the idea of playing in the NFL after school “wasn’t even a question. You weren’t even asked if you were training for the combine.”

But watching a couple of a former teammate surviving the cut in the NFL made Kirchoff think big. Chad Hall, a 2008 Academy graduate, is on the roster with the Philadelphia Eagles. And Ben Garland, a 2009 graduate, attended training camp with the Denver Broncos but didn’t make the cut.

That was all the motivation Kirchoff needed.

“After seeing those guys, a fire started up underneath me. Seeing them perform at that level is my motivation to try to get there,” he said in the press release. “Those guys did it. They were on an NFL roster and now the window is open for other players.”

But nothing’s a fait accompli. Kirchoff will perform for scouts at the Academy’s pro day in the spring and hopes to receive an invitation to work out at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

He’s in the gym “day in and day out” to get into NFL shape. Trainers are pushing weightlifting, sprint drills and agility training. In January, he’ll shift gears and focus entirely on speed. It’s already paying off: Kirchoff has gained 17 pounds of muscle and upped his maximum bench press 65 pounds over the past two months, according to the release.

If he catches on with an NFL team, he’ll be allowed to leave after two years on active duty and then serve in the Air Force Reserve. It has gotta help that his boss is on board with what is essentially one of his employees trying to find a new job.

“Shooting for the NFL is certainly a one in a million shot,” squadron commander Maj. Thomas Smicklas said, “but I know his fire and passion to overcome the odds pumps up every airman here in the [squadron]and is a lesson in perseverance and determination for the entire 50th Space Wing.”


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