Somewhat buried in the hype that was generated by Keenan Reynolds and his NFL Draft weekend was an item that will actually help the Mids on the football field this fall. Back on Friday April 29, former starting cornerback Brendon Clements was reinstated back onto the football team by head coach Ken Niumatalolo. Clements had been taken off of the roster over the winter due to a violation of Naval Academy rules.
This is a very positive surprise. Normally when a player is removed from the roster it is the last you see of them in a Navy uniform. Niumatalolo though has proven time and time again that he is an excellent leader of men and his ability to help turn around whatever was wrong in Clements life shouldn’t go unnoticed in this story. The timing is strange though, especially as Niumatalolo was asked about Clements directly during spring practice and the coach indicated a return to the team was unlikely.
What the change of heart does mean is that Navy suddenly has the talents of its best returning defender available again. With so much roster turnover having a player of Clements ability and, specifically, his experience back in the fold is just huge.
In his Navy career Clements has started 35 games and amassed 159 tackles, 14 pass breakups, seven picks and three forced fumbled. The senior to be has been unmovable from the left cornerback position since three games into his freshman campaign and now Navy has a lock down defender back at that position.
The experience factor is one that cannot be overlooked here. On Thursday the Mids leading returner was junior wide receiver Jamir Tillman who has 26 career starts. A day later Navy can count on a player with almost three full seasons of collegiate level football back on the defense.
The hope here is that Clements will respond to this reinstatement in a positive way. It must have been frustrating to sit out spring practice, not knowing if he had any chance of playing in the fall. Now, given this second chance, Clements has to come out and be a leader both on defense and on the team in general. His knowledge of the schemes and the position will help what is bound to be a young secondary adapt to AAC play. This can only make everyone on the team better.