ANNAPOLIS | Navy starting nose guard Nate Frazier was removed from the football team Monday for an unspecified violation of academy rules.
“Participation on a varsity athletic team is a privilege at the Naval Academy, and midshipmen who do not meet the high standards expected of a Naval Academy student-athlete will not be allowed to participate,” academy spokesman Cmdr. Joe Carpenter said.
Frazier was a mainstay on the defensive line. The 6-foot-3, 292 pound senior had developed into the Midshipmen’s most dependable lineman, commanding double teams from opponents.
“From a football standpoint, it’s definitely going to hurt us, but we’ve got to move forward,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “Obviously he’s a very, very good player, but other guys have got to step up. Whether it’s one person or a few people, we’ll have to see.”
The leading candidates to fill Frazier’s starting spot are junior Chase Burge, who was Frazier’s primary backup at nose guard, and defensive ends Jordan Stephens, Matt Nechak and Michael Walsh, all of whom have seen time at the position. Defensive coordinator Buddy Green said sophomore Jabaree Tuani, who led the team in tackles for loss, will remain at defensive end.
This is the second year in a row the Mids have suffered a significant setback before the season. Last year, starting quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada aggravated a hamstring injury that lingered throughout most of the season.
“I think I’m jinxed,” Niumatalolo joked. “[Last year] when we started out, we thought quarterback was going to be our deepest position with three guys that we were very excited about, and then Kaipo gets hurt. This year, we were feeling pretty good about or defensive line, and now we lose Nate.”