Two rows behind Griffin Landrum sat his future college football coach. The South Forsyth senior offensive lineman was on a flight back to Atlanta on Sunday after taking his official visit to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun was on his way to do a little recruiting in Georgia.
They saw each other, but Calhoun just waved. Anything more might have been an NCAA recruiting violation.
“He didn’t really say anything,” Landrum said, “and then he explained it [Tuesday].”
It was part of the small talk between Calhoun and Landrum when the Air Force head coach made an in-home visit Tuesday. Landrum took the opportunity to verbally commit to the Falcons, a Division I program that competes in the Mountain West Conference.
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound lineman anchored South’s unit that produced a state playoff appearance and the standout season of running back Tyler LaFlamme. Landrum graded out at 96 percent and had 94 pancake blocks to earn first-team all-county and all-region honors.
Landrum also had a full scholarship offer from Army and an offer to be a preferred walk-on at Georgia Tech. Choosing between the two and Air Force was the most agonizing part of the recruiting process for Landrum.
“All three schools that I had a chance to play were academically unbelievable,” Landrum said. “Distinguishing between those three was a tough choice.”
Air Force was helped by Kyle Watford. The former South Forsyth standout offensive lineman signed with the Falcons last year, and Landrum said he talked with Watford regularly since Air Force first offered him last spring.
Landrum pestered him with questions about the football program and life at the academy. In particular, he was curious about the military training.
“There are going to be some bad days and some good days,” Landrum said. “I just wanted to know how bad some of the bad days were.”
But more than anything, Landrum said, he was attracted to the familial atmosphere around Air Force and its football program, something the Falcons administration seemed to agree with last Wednesday when Calhoun received a five-year contract extension after a 10-3 season.
“It’s like a family there with the football players and coaches,” Landrum said. “It’s unbelievable.”