News has broken that could end up being a big blow to the Navy football team this fall.
The Mids will be without cornerback Brendon Clements for spring practice at a minimum and potentially all of next season. It was confirmed by head coach Ken Niumatalolo on Tuesday that Clements, a senior cornerback of whom big things were expected, has been indefinitely removed from the roster because of a violation of Naval Academy rules.
As is the usual policy Niumatalolo would not comment any further on the incident but, interestingly, he did stop short of calling it a full dismissal from the team. At the same time the coach did decline to comment when asked if Clements could find his way back onto the team at a later date, so it is clear that the star cornerback’s future is definitely in limbo at this point.
If Clements is done at the Academy then it would leave a gaping hole at the left cornerback position. The senior forced his way into the lineup three games into his freshmen season as he been unmovable from the spot ever since. Clements has started 35 games in his Navy career, recording an impressive 159 tackles, 14 pass breakups, seven picks and three forced fumbles while anchoring a Mids defensive unit that has got better every year he has been on the field.
Clements was not only supposed to bring his high level of play to the field this fall, but he was also supposed to be in a leadership position among defensive players. His 35 career starts are by far the most of any returning player as the Mids will undergo wholesale changes both defensively and offensively due to the graduation of a stunningly strong senior class this spring. After Clements it is wide receiver Jamir Tilman who has the most career starts with 26, almost a full season less than the cornerback.
It is worth noting that Clements was suspended for the season opener last fall. On that day he was replaced by Elijah Merchant who will be a junior this upcoming season. In that game, against a lower quality of opponent, Merchant was solid and always seemed to be in good position as he racked up six tackles.