Navy Places One on All-Independent First Team

Phil Steele is generally considered one of the key college football news guys, so when he releases his pre-season rankings and all-star teams people tend to listen.

It is interesting then that after an 8-5 season where Navy won the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and generally looked pretty good (with the obvious exception of the Arizona State game) the Mids have placed just one player on the First Team All-Independent list which Steele put out.

Part of this semi snub has to be a byproduct of sheer numbers. In recent years the independent pool has been small with no more than a handful of teams not holding conference affiliation. In 2013 however there are no less than seven independent schools and as you would expect Notre Dame and BYU dominate the list locking down 18 of the 27 possible positions. What is more jarring from a Navy perspective is that though the Mids only player on the squad is a punter (no offense to Pablo Beltran who is one of the best in the nation) both Army and Old Dominion have three players recognized.

That is the same Army squad that was 2-10 last season and the same Old Dominion who are transitioning to the FBS this year.

Perhaps even more interesting is that the first team quarterback (Taylor Heinicke, ODU) and running back (Raymond Maples, Army) come from schools who would hardly be considered FBS powerhouses. Sure, Heinicke had an insane 2012 with over 5,000 yards passing and 55 touchdowns, but surely the standard of completion has to be considered before throwing him ahead of a Keenan Reynolds or an Everett Golson (who was still at Notre Dame when the list was announced).

Focusing on the positives from a Navy standpoint this is a great piece of recognition for Beltran who plays at a position which gets very little love. He averaged 43.6 yards per punt last season, which was good for third best in the history of the Academy and he had 11 punts of 50 yards of more. It is not often that a punter can be seen as a weapon, but with the option attack requiring a field position advantage the ability of Beltran to change the dynamics of the game with one swing of the leg should not be underestimated. Top Stories