Meet the new Mids: Linebackers

Navy recently announced the newest players to join the Navy football team.'s Jim Lawler will now introduce the new Mid linebackers including Taylor Heflin, Hudson Sullivan, Conner Dorris, Ryan West, Lamonte Armstrong, John Fiorelli, Tory Delmonico, Dre Williamson, Travis Kerchner, Matt Stewart, Hawken Hydrick and Zach Richards.

Ken Niumatalolo and the Navy coaching staff continue to do a tremendous recruiting job finding and developing linebackers the last few years. The linebackers at Navy Academy Prep School (NAPS) were the strength of their defense last year. The only returning starting linebacker this season is junior SAM inside linebacker Daniel Gonzales. This group of new Mids linebackers provides depth and competition moving forward.

Inside linebacker Taylor Heflin was the defensive MVP and team captain at NAPS last fall. He was the team leader of the NAPS defensive unit. Heflin is a 6-1”, 230 pound inside linebacker from Wayne County high school in Georgia. He was named Region Defensive Player of a Year as a senior. In his career he made 274 solo tackles, 161 assists, caused ten fumbles, picked off 11 passes and scored six times. He had a great game for NAPS against Bridgton Academy when he helped hold them to 14 points. Taylor made a bone crushing hit covering the second half kickoff in the game against Army Prep. He helped shut down Army prep's offense and spoil their unbeaten season.

Heflin was all over the field making plays for NAPS last year at inside linebacker. Taylor has outstanding ability to read and react. He has great instincts and always seems to be in the right place at right time. He does a nice job of filling and shooting gaps. He did a great job stuffing the run. Heflin is strong, very quick and has sideline-to-sideline range. Heflin likes to bring the lumber when he arrives. He has the chance to play early in his career for Navy.

Hudson Sullivan (6-2”, 220) was one of the best linebackers at NAPS. He was a team captain and three-time All-state linebacker at Bishop Ireton high school in Virginia. Sullivan was a second team selection as a senior only because he injured his foot midway through the season. Sullivan led the league in tackles at the time he was hurt.

I could argue that Hudson Sullivan was just as good as Heflin who won the NAPS team MVP. He had a number of impressive games. Sullivan led NAPS with 9 tackles in opener against Nassau Community College. He led the defense with 13 solo tackles in shutting down the Army prep previously unbeaten offense, holding them to just 163 total yards. Sulivan is very fast, offers nice size and is competitive. He is physical, takes good angles and can find the ball. Hudson chose the Mids over Army, VMI, Delaware, James Madison, Lafayette, New Hampshire and Richmond. He is a very good player who should eventually compete for a starting job in my opinion.

Conner Dorris (6-2”, 245) was the other linebacker NAPS who had an impressive campaign. Heflin, Sullivan and Dorris stood out in what was an excellent linebacking crew at the prep school last fall. He was a middle linebacker and fullback from Clearwater Central Catholic in Florida. He earned honorable mention All-State honors at linebacker as a senior. As NAPS starting inside linebacker he had a huge possible game saving interception in the win over Globe Institute of Technology when he picked off a pass and returned it 40-yards. In the fourth quarter, Dorris made another big play sacking the quarterback to stop a Globe’s drive. Conner helped hold #17 ranked Hudson Valley Community College to just 67 yards rushing in a shutout win. Dorris is a very instinctive and aware inside linebacker. He reads plays well, has good range and flies to the ball. Conner is very physical, intense and fills quickly. He offers terrific size and speed for a Navy inside linebacker. He is another linebacker with the talent to compete for a starting job in a few years.

Ryan West is a 6-2” 248 pound outside linebacker from Kentucky. West was in the rotation as an inside linebacker last at NAPS. He served as team captain for DuPont Manual high school. West recorded 60 tackles and two sacks his senior season. West is the type of player you want getting off the bus first at road games. He is big, well built and looks the part of a FBS player. West played well last season at the prep school. He has tremendous size and good speed. Navy plans to use him as a Raider outside linebacker but he has the ability and size to move inside where he played at NAPS.

Lamonte "Monte" Armstrong (6-1,” 215) was a striker outside linebacker at NAPS last fall. He attended Quince Orchard high school in Maryland where he posted 49 tackles while leading his league with 10 sacks and forcing two fumbles as a senior. Armstrong played defensive line his senior season and was named MVP. Monte had a solid season at NAPS. He is a good athlete, athletic and has good speed. He is strong for his size. He can turn the corner and can pressure the passer. Monte seemed to struggle a bit adapting the Navy's 3-4 scheme last year. In high school his coaches had him just pin his ears back and attack the quarterback. Once he has a better understanding of his responsibilities he can be a factor. Monte has worked hard in the weight room and added about fifteen pounds since the start of last season which he needed.

John Fiorelli (6-2, 225) was a productive outside linebacker for NAPS last fall. Fiorelli was a team captain and linebacker at St. Christopher’s School in Virginia. His senior year he made 64 tackles, five tackles for a loss and had two interceptions. Fiorelli is average athlete but is a very smart player with incredible instincts that allows him to make plays. He reads opposing offenses so well that if you didn't know better you would think at times he's in the offensive huddle before the snap. John understands the game and takes good angles to the ball. Fiorelli's father and brother serve in the Navy.

Tory Delmonico is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound athlete who will play outside linebacker at Navy. Tory was used on offense at NAPS where he rotated in at quarterback and slotback. Delmonico played running back, quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back, outside linebacker and did everything but sell popcorn for West Allegheny high school in Pennsylvania. Delmonico was used as a wildcat quarterback at West Allegheny. He ran 128 times for 801 yards, a 5.8 average and 15 touchdowns his senior year. He completed 3-of-5 passes for 68 yards and threw a touchdown. He caught 23 passes for 356 yards and four scores. He earned All-State honors on defense as a linebacker. He led his team at West Allegheny in scoring, receiving and was their second-leading rusher.

Delmonico is a great athlete. Delmonico has very good hands and ball skills. He's a big, physical player with good speed. Tory had offseason shoulder surgery which limited his conditioning this past spring. He is a versatile all round athlete. On offense he was big and fast enough to project to slotback or B-back or wide receiver. His best position in high school was as an outside linebacker where he'll play for Navy. He's a real talent not just a jack-of-all-trades type. Delmonico chose Navy over offers from Army and Toledo.

D’vondre "Dre" Williamson (6-4”, 215) played outside linebacker at NAPS last fall. Dre was a two way player as a linebacker and wide receiver for Jackson Central Merry high school. The Tennessee native had, 31 tackles, eight sacks and five tackles for a loss as a senior. During his junior season Dre made 61 tackles, four interceptions, forced three fumbles and scored two touchdowns. He was a center on the basketball team. Williamson is very athletic and can do a 360 dunk. He is long, lean and runs well. He was rather skinny last season at NAPS but it looked like he's added weight since last year. His career goal is to eventually serve in the Marine Corps.

Travis Kerchner (photo above) was used last season as a striker outside linebacker at NAPS before he was moved to safety. Kerchner (6-2”, 200) is the son of a Marine and from Ramona, California. In 2013 he had 119 tackles, 6 1/2 sacks and a pair of interceptions. Travis earned first-team all-league honors as a senior. He was named Palomar League Defensive Player of the Year. Kerchner was an undersized linebacker who did a great job when switched to Rover last fall at NAPS. He will be used at striker linebacker at Navy. He is fast for a striker and has good range. When he was paying rover he demonstrated the ability to play in space. Travis chose Navy over offers from Army and Air Force.

Two-star recruit Matt Stewart (6-1”, 220) played on both side of the ball at NAPS last fall. Stewart was a star middle linebacker and running back at William Mason high school in Ohio. Matt was a team captain and a three year starter. He was named to 2013 All-TriState Football Team. Stewart is a big, versatile and athletic player. He started last year in the deep rotation at inside linebacker. When injuries hit the B-back position he was moved to offense. At fullback he scored a touchdown against Hudson Community College. Matt was one of the unsung heroes in the victory over Army prep when he ran and blocked very well. Stewart chose the Mids over offers from Air Force, Buffalo, Kent State, Wofford and Louisiana-Lafayette.

Hawken Hydrick was an outside linebacker last year at NAPS. He was a two way player at Briarcrest Christian. He played outside linebacker and tight end. The 6-4”, 212 pound outside linebacker from Tennessee is a long, lean thin linebacker who was better athletically than he looks at first glance at the Naval Academy Prep school. Hydrick lacks great speed or quickness but was a solid player at the prep school. Hawken needs to spend time in Mike Brass's weight room to get stronger and fill out his frame.

Zach Richards played at outside linebacker at NAPS at the beginning of the season before being moved to safety. Richards played as a defensive end, outside linebacker, running back and receiver for St. Stephen’s high school in Texas. Zach also played basketball and ran track as well. He was named all league in football his junior and senior seasons. Zach Richards is 6-2", 215- pounds and will be an outside linebacker for the Mids. He is a good athlete who is strong and has good speed. He only started playing football in high school and it shows. In high school he was bounced around at multiple positions and at NAPS last year he struggled at times with his assignments. He has above average ability but he just needs to learn the scheme and techniques. He chose Navy over an offer from Army.

There were no direct admit linebackers this past recruiting season.

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