ANNAPOLIS —- As coach Ken Niumatalolo spoke with his Navy football team, a few rounds of applause were scattered throughout his chat.
It turns out a couple players found out they would be going to Ireland.
Niumatalolo said junior linebacker Michael Tuimavave and sophomore guard Austin Marshall were added to the travel squad for the Midshipmen’s opener against Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland.
Freshman nose guard Bernard Sarra will also make the trip.
“We normally travel 74, but I’m going to take 75 because that kid has just worked hard and doesn’t say a word,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s done a great job.”
* A few weeks after some offensive line juggling, Niumatalolo is pleased with how the changes have taken hold.
Graham Vickers moved from tackle to center, with Bradyn Heap shifting out to right tackle. Both are projected to start Saturday.
“I feel very good about Graham,” Niumatalolo said. “Bradyn’s still working and hopefully he’ll continue to work and get better but right now he has to continue to improve. I’ve been really excited about Graham. The thing I love about Brady is he doesn’t say anything. he just keeps working every day. He’ll get better.”
* Freshman Nick Sloan, named the starting kicker last week, had a solid day with his first college game looming.
“He kicked well today, so that’s encouraging,” Niumatalolo said. “We had three kicks and he made three kicks. I feel good about him.”
Sloan’s backup, Austin Grebe, is also a freshman. Sloan will be the first Navy freshman kicker to start since Tim Shubzda in 1996.
* Niumatalolo reiterated freshman Keenan Reynolds is slightly ahead of John Hendrick for the backup quarterback spot.
* Niumatalolo was asked if his parents would get up at 3 a.m. local time in Hawaii to watch Saturday’s game. “I hope so,” he joked.
—- Patrick Stevens