When the news broke that Joe Cardona had reported to his ship after the Patriots’ season ended, I was optimistic that the Navy hadn’t lost its way. Playing football for a few months that would have otherwise been spent doing busy work was reasonable, and it wouldn’t interfere with a naval career. Even if Cardona was allowed to return to the team after two years, he’d at least have his SWO pin and a good story to tell. It wouldn’t be my preference, but if nothing else I could make an intellectually honest argument to justify it.
Last week, the Capital published an editorial urging Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to allow Keenan Reynolds and Chris Swain to play in the NFL.
I understand the sentiment, and to a point I share it. We all grew up idolizing our sports heroes. The thought of some of our midshipmen becoming those heroes for the next generation is appealing. We’ve spent years cheering for these guys, and we don’t want good things to come to an end. There is, however, a bigger picture to all of this, and I hope we don’t forget that.
In Tallahassee, this errant pass from Florida State’s Wally Woodham was picked off by Navy’s Charlie Meyers. It was Meyers’ third interception of the season.
Meyers was a defensive back that wore #66 because he was a converted nose guard. This play was peak George Welsh.
Here’s the list of past Navy opponents who were selected in this year’s NFL draft:
Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio State
Ezekiel Elliot – RB –Ohio State
Ronnie Stanley – OT – Notre Dame
Eli Apple – CB – Ohio State
Taylor Decker – T – Ohio State
Darron Lee – LB – Ohio State
Will Fuller – WR – Notre Dame
William Jackson III – CB – Houston
Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis
Jaylon Smith – LB – Notre Dame
Michael Thomas – WR – Ohio State
Jason Spriggs – T – Indiana
Nick Martin – G – Notre Dame
Tyler Boyd – WR – Pitt
Vonn Bell – S – Ohio State
Kevin Byard – S – Middle Tennessee State
Carl Nassib – DE – Penn State*
KeiVarae Russell – CB – Notre Dame
Adolphus Washington – DT – Ohio State
Braxton Miller – WR – Ohio State**
Leonte Carroo – WR – Rutgers
C.J. Prosise – RB – Notre Dame
Nick Vannett – TE – Ohio State
Joshua Perry – LB – Ohio State
Sheldon Day – DT – Notre Dame
Tavon Young – CB – Temple
Tyler Higbee – TE – Western Kentucky
Tyler Ervin – RB – San Jose State
Cardale Jones – QB – Ohio State**
Jordan Howard – RB – Indiana
Matthew Ioannidis – DT – Temple
Brandon Shell – T – South Carolina***
Antwione Williams – LB – Georgia Southern
Nate Sudfeld – QB – Indiana
Wes Schweitzer – G – San Jose State
Anthony Zettel – DT – Penn State
Jordan Lucas – S – Penn State
Kavon Frazier – S – Central Michigan
Elandon Roberts – LB – Houston
DeMarcus Ayers – WR – Houston
Tyler Matakevich – LB – Temple
Prince Charles Iworah – CB – Western Kentucky
**Did not appear in 2014 game
***Did not appear in 2011 game
Last week, I explained why the American is the strongest of the Group of Five conferences, and how that doesn’t appear likely to change. That makes great fodder for message board arguments, but what does it really mean?
Well, it depends…
This is a two-part post. In Part I, I talk about how the American has established itself as the top Group of Five conference. In Part II, we’ll discuss what that means, and where we go from here.
The American Athletic Conference is only three years old, but they’ve done pretty well for themselves in those three years. 2015 was the American’s best season yet, with a New Year’s bowl winner, two teams in the final top 25, the consensus national defensive player of the year (Temple’s Tyler Matakevich), and a player who finished in the top five in Heisman voting (Keenan Reynolds). There were plenty of skeptics who doubted the viability of the Big East’s football remnants, but the conference has not only survived, but thrived.
Indeed, the case can easily be made that the American has emerged as the top Group of Five conference.