Continuing our running series on how (and from where) Rutgers weekly adversary gets its players, we take a look at Naval Academy recruiting. Navy recruiting has a ton of constraints other schools do not have to deal with: height and weight requirements, rigorous academic admissions standards, character requirements, mandatory five-year military service following graduation, and military training requirements during summers and off periods. For those reasons, this preview will be a little different than previous versions in this series.
Where do Their Players Come From?
They come from 'Merica - all of it.
Navy's 2015 class has six commits so far, from five different states: Illinois, Georgia (2), New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.
In 2014, they had 15 commits from nine states: Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Tennessee (3), Colorado, Florida (2), North Carolina (2), and Texas (3).
In 2013, Navy pulled in 22 commitments from 12 states: California, Georgia (3), Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee (3), Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina (2) and Texas.
Schools like Notre Dame recruit nationally because they can - Navy recruits nationwide because it must, and because the men and women serving in America's military do not come from only one state or region of the country.
Who are Their Blue Chip Recruits?
None, in the traditional sense. Navy does not have 4* and 5* rated athletes. They have some 3* guys, but the people that get into and choose to attend the Naval Academy are generally not the same guys who are trying set new 40 yard dash records at Rivals camp. Instead, they are all blue-chip academic and character recruits: Navy admits only 7% of all applicants, and applicants need to be nominated, usually by a member of Congress. They are the cream of the crop, regardless of their measurable athletic numbers.
Who is the Ace Recruiter on Staff?
You may be picking up on a theme, but Navy recruits differently than just about anyone else. Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo has one of the hardest recruiting jobs of any major football coach in America, in part because of the constraints described below. Navy has to identify under the radar talent like any program, with numerous additional filters for any potential recruit to clear. If you think you or your son has what it takes after reading this article and want to play football at Navy, feel free to save us some tax dollars and submit your information through Navy's website here so they can identify you.
Their Director of Player Personnel is Sean Magee, and he functions partially as a recruiting coordinator. He is a 2004 USNA grad, and his official job description includes, "developing and molding Navy Football Players to assume future positions of leadership in the Navy and Marine Corps."
Any "State of Rutgers" Guys on the Roster?
Yes. There are some New Jersey natives on the roster, as well New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.
Here are the New Jersey players:
Fr. CB Abdul Majeed (Hun School, Moorestown)
Soph. Slot Back Calvin Cass, Jr. (St. Augustine Prep, Sicklerville)
Sr. WR Brendan Dudeck (Hun School, Hamilton Square)
Notable Recruiting Storylines
I keep mentioning all the constraints that make recruiting at Navy a challenge. Any football player at Navy is, first and foremost, a student at the US Naval Academy, where admission is a formidable challenge in itself. He is also a member of the United States military. Neither the Naval Academy's stringent admission requirements nor the military's rules bend much, if at all, to accommodate athletes. So what are those requirements?
First, all midshipmen must satisfy strict height and weight requirements upon entry and also at graduation. Here's the chart:
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT STANDARDS
This means Navy football players, especially on the lines, are going to be WAY smaller than their counterparts at other schools. A 6'4" 221 lb (max) O linemen is not going to win a lot of straight-up trench battles with a 300 pound behemoth. That's one of the reasons Navy uses the flexbone triple option offensive scheme it runs to perfection - it's a size and talent equalizer. Many Navy linemen play at much heavier weights, but for seniors, that can mean losing 50+ pounds between the end of the season in December and graduation in May to meet the requirements. Not easy.
Aside from physical frame, there are a ton of other physical issues that can keep you out of the Naval Academy, let alone the football team - poor vision, color blindness, high blood pressure, hearing loss, asthma, certain allergies, history of surgery to a major joint within six months, an ACL injury at any time, or any tattoo visible in uniform all disqualify a candidate.
Even if a candidate is viable under the above-listed physical requirements, Navy is one of the most selective undergraduate colleges in the country, bar none. Their admission standards are comparable to Duke, Northwestern, Stanford or Notre Dame, without any of the leeway that might be available at those places to get an athlete admitted if he otherwise does not qualify. In the class of 2017, the members of which are sophomores now, the 25-75 percentiles of SAT scores were 580-670 for Verbal and 620-700 for Math. 56% were in the top 10% of their high school classes and 89% were in the top third. They were involved in sports (90%), community services (88%), public speaking or debate teams (65%), student politics (66%), or church groups (52%). By no stretch of the imagination are these kids stereotypical jocks.
It does not get easier once players are on campus - the Navy's academic standards are daunting. No basket-weaving classes for athletes or seminars on post-modern feminist puppetry here. Navy's football team put up a 971 APR rating in 2012-2013, so almost as good as Rutgers 980 (I kid, middies, I kid).
Military Service Requirements
After graduation from the Naval Academy, Midshipmen, including football players are required to serve at least five years active duty in the Navy or Marine Corps. If a high school athlete has NFL dreams (and show me one who is a D-1 caliber player who doesn't), the active duty requirement may be a discouraging factor in the athlete's recruitment. Simply stated, if football is a recruit's top priority, he is not likely to view the Naval Academy as a top destination.
Military Training Requirements
Even before graduation, Navy student athletes have are in the military, and have training obligations, especially in the summer. "Training camp" has a different meaning for these kids than it does for Rutgers or other civilian programs.
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If you're interested in reading further, SBNation did an awesome piece on the challenges of service academy recruiting in May. Check it out here.