“Sometimes you sit there as a staff and say ‘OK, how do we get our best players on the field?'” — Bill Belichick

FOXBOROUGH — It was the first quarter, still early, yet Cameron Fleming felt compelled to say something because he knew damn well that this thing would be over by the second.

Fleming, the Patriots rookie, is a mountain of a human being. Six-foot-6, 325 pounds. Crazy as it sounds, he looks even bigger. He has a soft, timid voice that hardly matches his physique.

And when he entered in the first quarter, he was surrounded by those with far more experience. But he wouldn’t allow his age to be an excuse. He’d ask questions, as anyone at his position would. Because this was complex stuff. These weren’t simple concepts.

This was… ultra-high bypass ratio.

And no, that’s not code for a safety blitz, although it does sound like it could be a ridiculous coverage scheme on Madden, doesn’t it?

It is, as Stanford aeronautics and astronautics professor Juan Alonso says, a formula for jet engine efficiency.

“Effectively to make engine more efficient, they have to become much larger,” Alonso explains. “The problem is when they get larger, they have more surface area so they’re draggier, even though they’re more efficient. So at some point, making them larger doesn’t make any sense.”

One of the few undergrads in a class filled with Masters students, Cameron Fleming was particularly interested in this aspect of his aircraft design, a course that lasts two quarters at Stanford. He’d approach Alonso after class to discuss ultra-high bypass ratio. What’s wild: It wasn’t until the halfway through the course that Alonso even realized Fleming played football. Never came up in conversation.

“I just thought, ‘Wow, this guy’s huge,” Alonso says, laughing.

The class began in the fall, coinciding with football season, and …read more