Meet the New Mids: Linebackers

Ken Niumatalolo and the Navy coaching staff continues to do a tremendous recruiting job finding and developing linebackers. The Navy staff added seven linebackers from the Navy Academy Prep School and another seven direct admit linebackers. This is a talented good group of linebackers joining the program. will now look at the new Mid linebackers.

Inside linebacker Tony Mack was the defensive MVP for the Naval Academy Prep School last fall. Mack (6-1, 220) played his high school football at Moorpark in California. Mack was the team captain and leader of the defense. He was a two time All-County linebacker. The Ventura County Coaches Association's all-county large schools team voted Tony its 2012 Linebacker of the Year. Mack was an incredibly productive player at NAPS. In the game against Bridgeton Academy he was flying to the ball in NAPS dominating 38-0 win. In the tough loss to Navy JV he made a couple of key tackles to force a punt that set up NAPS final drive that fell just short. The Army prep offensive line could not block him. Mack flew all over the field making plays for NAPS last year at SAM linebacker. He is very smart, intense and aggressive linebacker. Tony has outstanding ability to read and react. Mack has great instincts and always seems to be in the right place at right time. He reads offenses so well that if you didn't know better you would think he's in the offensive huddle before the snap. Mack runs well and has above average athletic ability. He is a sure wrap up tackler. Mack isn't that big and he needs to get stronger and probably add some weight. He has the talent to eventually compete for a starting job.

Mack Highlights

Kevin McCoy (6-3, 205) was the starting striker linebacker last year at the Naval Academy Prep School. Kevin played at Douglas Byrne high school in North Carolina. McCoy was a late bloomer who didn't play football until high school. As a junior defensive end he made 82 tackles and posted 10 sacks. His senior season he was moved to outside linebacker and dominated. He posted 92 tackles, 27 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, 18 quarterback hurries and caused three fumbles. At Naval Academy Prep School he was one of their best defenders. McCoy had two sacks and dominated in helping NAPS shut out Bridgeton Academy. He pressure the Brighton quarterback into throwing a poor pass that was picked off and returned for a NAPS touchdown. He played well against Navy JV. He had a huge game against the United States Military Academy Prep School as the NAPS defense allowed just 138 total yards.

McCoy was probably the most talented all round athlete on the NAPS defense last fall in my opinion. He is a very good player. McCoy is quick, active and dominated at times. He runs well and has good speed off the edge at Striker linebacker. Kevin has a tremendous motor. He will hustle and chase all game. McCoy has nice size and surprising natural strength with the ability to shed blocks. McCoy has good acceleration and a quick first step with the ability to get up the field and pressure the quarterback. At just 205 pounds he could use some time in the weight room. McCoy has huge upside with the potential to emerge as an impact defender.

McCoy Highlights

Winn Howard was the Raider linebacker at the Naval Academy Prep School. Howard (6-2, 210) is from Palmer Ridge high school in Colorado. He earned 2012 Denver Post/ Max Preps First team All-State honors as a linebacker. Howard posted 142 tackles, 4½ sacks and forced a fumble. On offense he ran for 942 yards and scored eight touchdowns. He impressed last season at NAPS with his ability to run to the ball, square up and make tackles. He played well and stood out against Bryant, Gattaca and Navy JV.

Howard was a real pleasant surprise last year at NAPS. He is an excellent athlete. He made a lot of plays last fall. Howard is very smart, surprisingly fast, reads well and takes good angles to the ball. He can bend his knees and plays with leverage. He does a nice job of filling and shooting gaps. While he played outside linebacker at NAPS it likely that Navy will move him back to inside linebacker where he played in high school. He should develop into a very productive player at Navy.

Howard Highlights

Myles Davenport was an inside linebacker last season at the Naval Academy Prep School. Davenport (6-2, 225) is a big, athletic inside linebacker from Terry Sanford high school. The North Carolina native recorded a team high 149 tackles during his senior year. Davenport was inconsistent last year at NAPS. Myles is a good athlete with size and ability but he is not very instinctive. He is slow to react at times and often took poor angles to the ball carrier. Davenport brings the lumber when he does arrive. He is very physical, tough and can stuff the run. He is strong and does a nice job of taking on and shedding blockers. If he improves his techniques, reads and awareness he has the physical tools to emerge as a factor down the road.

David Smith (6-2, 210) was in the outside linebacker rotation at the Naval Academy Prep School. Smith is a very athletic outside linebacker from Warwick high school in Virginia. His senior season he made 146 tackles, posted five sacks and forced six fumbles. Smith scored five offensive touchdowns. Smith chose the Midshipmen over offers from Temple, Marshall, Richmond, William & Mary, Howard, Bucknell, Old Dominion, James Madison and Hampton. Smith played well in the opener against Lackawanna College. He had a terrific game in the shutout win over Gattaca Academy. Smith has good speed, range and the ability to pursue. He did a good job in coverage. He is a tough aggressive tackler who can force fumbles.

Smith Highlights

Eli Dawson played as a backup Raider linebacker last fall at the Naval Academy prep school. The 6-5, 235-pound Dawson is from Western Reserve Academy in Ohio. He chose Navy over Army and Furman. In high school he played defensive end and tight end. Dawson made 75 tackles, six sacks, and had 22 receptions for 210 receiving yards his senior season. Dawson didn't stand out in his playing time last year at NAPS. Eli seemed to struggle in the NAPS defensive scheme playing as an outside linebacker after being a high school defensive end. At this point he is a very raw player with nice size and some speed. He'll probably need a few years on the Navy JV team to reach his potential. I could see the staff adding weight on him and having him compete at his more natural defensive end position.

Dawson Highlights

Brandon Jones (6-4, 205) played linebacker and safety last year at the Naval Academy Prep School. Jones was an outside linebacker at Keller high school in Texas. He made 72 tackles, defensed four passes and caused a fumble during his senior year at Keller. The athletic Jones earned All-District honors. Jones bounced between striker linebacker and safety last season at NAPS. Jones was active and played his best games in the season opener against Lackawanna College and against Bryant. He is very tall, lean, athletic, jumps well and has good speed. Jones is a bit of a tweener in the Navy defense. He is a little light and right now lacks the strength at Striker linebacker. His speed tends to be in a straight line at safety. He can make the plays in front of him but can have trouble turning and playing the deep ball. Jones seems to lack the hips to turn and handle man coverage consistently. I personally think his best position would be Striker linebacker but he'll have to spend at least a year in the weight room and get stronger to get in the mix.

Jones Highlights

Ken Niumatalolo and his staff brought in another seven direct admit linebackers on I-day.

Micah Thomas is a big talented direct admit linebacker the Mids landed because the Arkansas State new head coaching gave his scholarship away. This left Thomas without an offer just before signing day. Thomas (6-1, 235) is from Vista Ridge high school in Texas where he played linebacker and also at defensive end. He earned first-team honors on the Class 4A all-state team and the American-Statesman's All-Central Texas squad. In 2013 Thomas recorded 147 tackles in only 10 games and had 3 1/2 sacks and three forced fumbles. He is a big, physical inside linebacker with ability.

Thomas Highlights

Mason Hicks (6-1, 212) is a direct admit linebacker from North Davidson high school in North Carolina. Hicks led his team in tackles the past two seasons. He was the Dispatch’s Davidson County Defensive Player of the Year this past season, and was an all-Central Piedmont Conference selection each of the past three seasons. Hicks made 125 tackles, 32 tackles, three interceptions, five passes defensed and two block punts. He moves well is active, aggressive and a good tackler.

Hicks Highlights

Terrence Laster is a direct admit outside linebacker from Panther Creek high school in North Carolina. Lastter was a 6-1, 210 pound outside linebacker on a team that allowed just 14 points per game last year. The Panther Creek defense finished first in the SWAC in points allowed and total defense. Laster is an undersized linebacker who was a solid pass rusher off the edge. Laster's father played football at Duke and was a three-year football letterman from 1985 to 1987.

Laster Highlights

Trey Olsen (6-4, 235) is an outside linebacker from Oakmont high school in California. Olsen posted 84 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and eight sacks last year. He played defensive end and tight end. At Navy he projects to Raider linebacker in the Midshipmen scheme. He was an All-Conference performer with nice size and above average speed. He'll need time to get stronger and develop. Olsen chose Navy over offers from Air Force, Nevada, San Diego and Cornell among others.

Olsen Highlights

D.J. Palmore is a direct admit outside linebacker from Christian Brothers high school in Tennessee. The 6-3, 235 pound senior had 65 tackles, seven sacks while earning All-State, All-District and All-City honors. Palmore was the team captain and played defensive end, outside linebacker and tight end. He caught three touchdown passes last season. Palmore has good bulk, strength and athleticism. He can bench press over 365 pounds and squat 475 pounds. Palmore is expected to compete at outside Raider linebacker. He could possibly project down the road to defensive end or inside linebacker due to his size and strength.

Palmore Highlights

Dylan Roney (6-2, 235) is a direct admit from Detroit Catholic Central in Michigan. He played with his hand on the ground as a defensive end in high school. Roney is expected to be converted to Raider outside linebacker in Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green's defensive scheme. He was a defensive end, tight end and fullback. Roney earned first team All-State, All-Catholic and All-Detroit honors. Dylan is an intense, huge effort player with above average speed. Roney has a great motor and a nice pass rushing spin move. He needs to get stronger. If he can add weight he may end up at defensive end at Navy. Roney chose Navy over offers from Air Force, Toledo, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Miami of Ohio and Old Dominion.

Roney Highlights

Joe Nauert (6-2, 221) is a direct admit inside linebacker from Chaparral high school in Arizona. The two star recruit was the seventh ranked Arizona high school linebacker by Nauert recorded 74 tackles, posted 4 ½ sacks, picked off two passes and forced two fumbles last year. His junior year he had played at Phoenix Brophy high school and recorded 88 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss and forced two fumbles. Nauert has good instincts but like most Navy freshman he'll need to spend time in Mike Brass's weight room to get ready to play at the FBS level. He chose Navy over New Mexico State and Air Force.

Nauert Highlights

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