NAVY SIGNING DAY REVIEW: LINEBACKER

The U.S. Naval Academy continues to attract outstanding football players. GoMids.com will now review the 2015 class, position by position. In this segment we discuss the linebackers.

The Navy linebacker positions will see sweeping changes this year as only one starter, Mike linebacker Daniel Gonzalez, returns. Six of the twelve spots on the three deep depth chart from last year’s Army-Navy game are now vacant. The staff added some talented players.

Rahn Bailey (6-3", 220) is one of the type of recruits that Navy can land because they aren't limited by scholarship limits. The 6-foot-3, 226-pound defensive end/outside linebacker out of Clear Falls High School in Texas attracted offers from Wisconsin, Kansas and Wake Forest after a stellar junior campaign. Rahn was an impact defender playing stand-up defensive end his junior season. He recorded 59 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries, an interception and two forced fumbles during the 2013 season. Bailey was named first team All-District and All-County, second team All-State, and third team All-Region. Bailey suffered a knee injury causing him to miss his senior year and the football factories pulled their offers. Bailey initially settled on Bowling Green but changed his mind and became a Mid. Bailey offers great acceleration and a quick first step if he is fully recovered from his knee surgery. Rahn is expected to start his career at NAPS.

Paul Carothers is a 6-foot-1, 225-pound inside linebacker who committed to the Midshipmen last June. He was the team captain at Greater Atlanta high school in Georgia. During his senior year he had 137 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and returned a fumble return for a 90-yard touchdown. Paul was named Defensive Player of the Year for Georgia Region 6AA and First team All-State. Carothers is a physical player who runs well and is an explosive hitter. He recorded 296 tackles during his high school varsity career. He set a school record for tackles with 26 tackles in one game. Carothers had offers from Air Force, Appalachian State, Army, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, and VMI. He'll begin his Navy career at NAPS.

Jake Strickler (6-2", 210) is an outside linebacker from Sullivan South in Tennessee. As a senior he made 160 total tackles, 30 tackles for loss, eight sacks and six forced fumbles. Strickler was named Defensive Player of the Year in the region and First team All-State. Jake was a highly productive player with good speed and a nose for the ball. He finished his high school career with a school record 29 sacks and most tackles in a game with thirty. Jake had additional offers from Army, Austin Peay, Penn, and Yale. Strickler will be play at NAPS this summer. Navy beat out Army and Air Force for recruit Nizaire Cromartie, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound defensive end/outside linebacker from Dudley High School in North Carolina. The two- year starter made 89 tackles and posted 18 sacks last year to help lead Dudley to an undefeated regular season. Cromartie earned All-Conference, All-Area, and All-Metro honors for his play. Cromartie is a playmaker who plays faster than his listed forty yard dash time. He originally committed to Army before switching to Navy just before signing day.

Jack Onstott is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound middle linebacker from Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, California. The two year starter tallied 96 tackles and broke up nine passes during his senior year. Jack was recognized with an All-Eastern League selection and was named Second Team All-State. Onstott is undersized but very active, aggressive and fast. In 2013 his 98-yard interception touchdown return in triple overtime won Cathedral Catholic the state championship. Jake has the frame to fill out and add some weight. He'll begin his career at the Naval Academy Prep school. Robbie Armstrong was another undersized 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive player who signed with Navy. Armstong was used as a defensive end at Archer high school in Georgia but was recruited by the Mids as an outside linebacker. Armstrong finished his senior season with 120 tackles and three sacks and was named First team All- State and All- State county. Robbie was a three year starter who helped Archer win two state titles. Armstrong will spend this year at NAPS and transition from playing in a three point stance to playing outside linebacker in space.

Anthony Masaniai (6-2", 235) was a two-year varsity starter at middle linebacker for Eastside Catholic in Washington State. Masaniai helped his team win the state championship with 88 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, an interception, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery during his senior season. The run stuffing inside linebacker made 127 tackles during his junior year. Anthony originally committed to Air Force before he changed his mind and signed with Navy. Masaniai was also offered by Idaho, Montana State, UC Davis, and UTEP but it came down to a battle between the two service academies.

Denzel Polk (6-2", 225) of Kingsway Regional high school in New Jersey committed to Navy coach Dale Pehrson last summer. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound defensive end projects to outside linebacker in the Navy 3-4 scheme. In his senior year at Kingsway Regional he was named first team All-South Jersey for a second straight season, first team All-Group 4, and first team All-State at defensive end. Polk finished the year with 73 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, and 10 sacks as his team advanced to the state semifinals. Polk is relentless, active and he runs well but he'll have to learn to drop into coverage since he played his entire high school career in a three point stance. He will attend NAPS.

Pepe Tanuvasa was a three year starter at inside linebacker for Tigard High School in Oregon. The six foot, 220-pound linebacker made over 100 tackles, posted four sacks, and returned an interception for a score as a senior. Tanuvasa played on both sides of the ball and was used as a fullback. He was named First team all-conference (inside linebacker), second team all-conference (fullback) and second team all-state for a Tigard team that made it to the championship game. Tanuvasa is a run stuffer who likes to hit and can bring the lumber. Pepe was offered by Navy and Virginia Union. He'll start his career at NAPS.

Chalin Fairly is a 6-foot-2, 220-pound outside linebacker from Atlee high school in Virginia. Fairly had a productive senior year as he made 110 tackles and recorded 8 1/2 sacks last season. The versatile Fairly played five different positions including wide receiver, cornerback, quarterback, safety before playing linebacker. He chose Navy over offers from Harvard, James Madison University and VMI. Laronn Veal is a quick undersized linebacker from Parkview high school in Georgia. The 6-2, 200-pound Veal was a two way player at outside linebacker and running back. He was one of six players from Parkview to earned Division I scholarships this year. Veal projects to striker linebacker in the Mids 3-4 defense. He'll start his career at the Naval Academy Prep school.

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