ANNAPOLIS —- Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo made no secret of how little he wanted to tolerate this season after the Midshipmen struggled to a 5-7 record last fall.
One day into preseason camp, there’s already clear evidence of a no-nonsense approach.
Cornerback Albrey Felder, linebacker Josh Tate and wide receiver Brandon Turner failed to pass their physical readiness test last month and later fell short on a makeup, and Niumatalolo sent them home.
Niumatalolo said the three were the only players on the Navy roster to flunk the PRT. Passing the test is required of all athletes at the academy.
“They can come back when school starts and try again,” Niumatalolo said. “They basically have three weeks to get ready to pass it.”
Navy’s fall term begins Aug. 20. The Mids open the season Sept. 1 against Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland.
Turner, a senior, has 14 career starts and had a team-high 14 catches for 300 yards and three touchdowns last season. Tate was projected to start at outside linebacker after moving from safety in the spring. Felder had not played in two seasons, but was expected to serve as one of Navy’s top reserve defensive backs.
“It’s a hard deal. One guy was our starting Striker,” Niumatalolo said. “One guy was probably our best wide receiver, probably one of the best football players on our team, so that was a hard decision to make. But the standard is what it is. … That was a hard decision for us to make just with where those guys stand.”
John O’Boyle and Shawn Lynch are listed as co-starters at Turner’s position. Jordan Drake and Chris Johnson are listed as co-starters at one outside linebacker spot, while Keegan Wetzel is the sole starter at the other
Niumatalolo said the makeup test was conducted “recently” and insisted “the standard’s up” after last season’s frustrations.
“We made a concrete date,” Niumatalolo said. “Here’s our return date. You guys who struggled to pass it in the past, you’d better pass it. We made a big emphasis right when spring ball was over. This is the date; your butt better pass it.”
—- Patrick Stevens