The Fort Lewis College football program certainly made waves Friday afternoon when it announced the signing of two Division I transfers as the Skyhawks look to rebuild the program from last year’s dismal one-win season.
Isaac Leppke, a quarterback and wide receiver who previously played for Wyoming, is committed to getting the program back to relevance, both on campus and the football field.
“I easily believe that with fixing a few small things, we can be a very good team and turn it around,” Leppke said. “I looked at last year’s record and saw my role coming in here as a good challenge for me. There’s so many offensive weapons on the team who are returning, and with an air-raid style offense, which is my style of play, I think if we continue to keep building the chemistry, it can be a breakout season.”
Leppke considered other Division I Football Championship Series programs but was sold because of offensive coordinator Brandon Crosby’s persistent effort.
“Coach Crosby was really interested in me from the moment I decided to put in my transfer request,” Leppke said. “My biggest concern was going somewhere where you’re loved and can truly enjoy football. With coach Crosby being persistent, the air-it-out style of offense and the beautiful campus, it really seemed like by the time I took my official visit, it felt like home.”
While Leppke did not play quarterback at Wyoming, in high school, he was a prolific passer, as he passed for more than 2,600 yards in two seasons and threw 27 touchdowns. He said he’s looking forward to finding a plethora of weapons on offense.
“I’ve already gotten to know Arealous (Hughes) and we bonded really well when I was on my visit,” Leppke said. “I also got to know Xavier (Thibodeaux) and (Brayden) Lucero is exciting, and I heard Jake Lowry is really fast, plus the offensive line is going to be promising. I’m also excited to work with two coaches who have Mountain West Conference experience, and that’s huge.”
Head coach Joe Morris immediately noticed Leppke’s passion for the game.
“When I met him, I saw a big, athletic type of player who was interested in being part of change,” Morris said. “He seems like the type of player who wants to come in and build something better. I think with guys like him, we can win. We’re always trying to get the program in the right direction, and it’s a big step forward for us.”
Fort Lewis also announced the signing of Ka’Lonn Milton, who had played the last three seasons with Fresno State in California. Milton, a defensive back, played in 18 games in the last two seasons for the Bulldogs and had four tackles this fall alongside seven in 2017. Morris said Milton is another key player to look out for next season.
“We’re excited about him, and he’s another guy who is super committed to getting us back in the right direction,” Morris said. “We always have to find ways to replace players who graduate like Donnell Pleasant (and) Dre Cortez, and while you can never replace those guys, you do have to find a new guy or two. He was one of the most talented guys that we watched as we were recruiting this year, and it really worked out that coach Crosby did a great job of recruiting him, as well.”
Leppke and Milton have been acquainted with each other since both are from the Fresno area, and he said there’s a lot to look for in his new teammate.
“Ka’Lonn is a great athlete, and I’ve known him for a while because we’re both from Fresno,” Leppke said.
“He’s going to be somebody who can immediately make a difference, and I’ve heard things that he might play on offense, and if he’s out there, teams can watch out because he is athletic, strong and fast.”
How Fort Lewis found out about these players isn’t an accident; the information is readily available for coaches and student-athletes. The NCAA instituted a transfer portal in October, so when a student-athlete opts to leave their school, the data is immediately entered on the website. Only coaches and players have access to the portal.
“I like it and it makes it more accessible for guys who might be interested in transferring, and can see fairly quick what’s going on,” Morris said. “But at the same time, transfer rates are incredibly high at this point, and all I’m focused on once they get onto campus is that we get this Skyhawk program going in the right way.”
Morris is not done bringing in players just yet.
“There are some pretty impressive dudes as well coming our way,” Morris said. “It’s gonna be happy holidays for Skyhawk fans.”