Coach Ken Niumatalolo (eighth season, 57-35 at Navy and overall)
Returning Starters: 12, 4 offense, 7 defense, 1 special teams
Recruiting Rank: 106
Strength of Schedule: 119 (43.6%)
The Navy football program has become a well-oiled machine under head coach Niumatalolo. The Midshipmen have averaged eight wins a season with six bowl appearances over the past seven years with Niumatololo at the helm, and the boys from Annapolis will be looking to continue that trend in 2015.
The return of senior quarterback Keenan Reynolds will be key for the Midshipmen in 2015, as he was the team’s leading rusher in Navy’s triple-option offense last year. Reynolds accumulated 1,191 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground last season and will be in position to put up similar numbers this year with the return of standout offensive linemen E.K. Binns and Joey Gaston.
However, Navy will have to replace several important skill players on the offensive side of the ball. Senior fullback Chris Swain will be key to the Navy running game in 2015 after accumulating 693 yards last year. Senior DeBrandon Sanders and junior Dishan Romine figure to be the lead running backs for the Midshipmen this season, although both lack experience after combining for just 354 rushing yards last year.
At wide receiver, junior Jamir Tillman returns after leading Navy in receiving last year with 20 catches for 386 yards and three touchdowns. Reynolds won’t throw much this season, but when he does he’ll have Tillman to lean on, although Navy has no other proven wide receivers on the roster.
Defensively, the Midshipmen held their own last year, but they’ll have nearly half a dozen starters to replace on that side of the ball. The Navy defensive line will be thin and inexperienced, and will need Will Anthony and Bernard Sarra to hold the unit together.
At linebacker, the Midshipmen will lose three standout players, leaving junior Daniel Gonzales to lead a group of inexperienced players at that position. Of course, Gonzales should be poised for a big season after he had 86 tackles and three interceptions last year.
The Navy secondary also has some holes to fill, but safety Kwazel Bertrand had a strong 2014 season, and the Midshipmen have a pair of quality cornerbacks in Quincy Adams and Brandon Clements.
In the kicking game, senior place kicker Austin Grebe returns after a solid season in 2014, although the Midshipmen will have to break in a new punter. Sanders and Demond Brown should be the primary return specialists in 2015, although neither was that productive in that role last year.
The academies typically don't have high ranked recruiting classes and Navy has just the CFP 106th group for 2015. But the Midshipmen does bring in size with Tennessee native Andrew Woods for the offensive line and the class overall should develop into another successful squad.
Navy will undertake a new challenge in 2015, as they become part of the AAC, which will increase the difficulty of their schedule and could cause them to take a step back. The Midshipmen also have key players to replace on both sides of the ball, and if they don’t find ways to fill those holes, a fourth straight bowl won’t be a certainty for Navy in 2015.
*Recruiting analysis and statistic listings compiled by Justin Burnette.
PPG: 31.8 (46th)
YPG: 419.5 (50th)
RYPG: 338.1 (3rd)
PYPG: 81.4 (127th)
Fum Lost: 17
Int Lost: 5
TOs Lost: 22
Sacks Allowed: 21
PAPG: 27.3 (71st)
YAPG: 403.8 (69th)
RYAPG: 198.6 (90th)
PYAPG: 205.2 (31st)
Fum Gained: 5
Int Gained: 13
TOs Gained: 18
TO Margin: -4
*2014 season stats listed unless otherwise noted.
OG Andrew Woods
Fr. 6-4 300
Lebanon, TN (Friendship Christian)
S Elijah Jones
Fr. 5-11 186
Upland, CA (Upland)
LG E.K. Binns
Sr. 6-3 282
22 career starts, 27 career games, CFP 2014 All-Independent Honorable Mention and team 3rd overall rushing yards per game.
RT Joey Gaston
Sr. 6-5 281
16 consecutive starts, 26 career games,
CFP 2014 All-Independent Honorable Mention and team 3rd overall rushing yards per game.
QB Keenan Reynonld
Sr. 5-11 195
11 games, 843 passing yards, 76.6 passing yards per game, 46.8 percent completion, 6 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 123.1 QB rating, 1191 rushing yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 108.3 rushing yards per game and 23 rushing touchdowns.
FB Chris Swain
Sr. 6-1 245
13 games, 693 rushing yards, 6.7 yards per carry, 53.3 rushing yards per game, 4 rushing touchdowns, 1 reception, 12 receiving yards and 1 receiving touchdown.
Z-WR Jamir Tillman
Jr. 6-4 206
13 games, 20 receptions, 386 receiving yards, 19.3 yards per catch, 29.7 receiving yards per game and 3 receiving touchdowns.
RE Will Anthony
Sr. 6-1 246
13 games, 67 tackles, 32 solo tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 4 quarterback hurries and 1 fumble recovered.
NG Bernard Sarra
Sr. 6-1 303
13 games, 38 tackles, 15 solo tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 pass broken up and 3 blocked kicks.
MIKE Daniel Gonzales
Jr. 6-2 229
13 games, 86 tackles, 47 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hurry and 3 interceptions.
STR Williams Tuider
Jr. 6-2 231
11 games, 30 tackles, 21 solo tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 quarterback hurry, 2 fumbles forced and 1 pass broken up.
RCB Quincy Adams
Sr. 5-11 195
13 games, 75 tackles, 49 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 fumble forced, 1 fumble recovered, 9 passes broken up and 1 interception.
ROV Kwazel Bertrand
Sr. 6-0 186
10 games, 53 tackles, 42 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 passes broken up and 1 interception.
LCB Brendon Clements
Jr. 5-11 188
13 games, 58 tackles, 49 solo tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 4 passes broken up.
K Austin Grebe
Sr. 6-0 192
6-6 field goals, 2-2 field goals 30-39 yards, 2-2 field goals 40-49 yards and 33-33 point after attempts.
vs Ohio State L 34-17
at Temple W 31-24
at Texas State W 35-21
vs Rutgers L 31-24
vs Western Kentucky L 36-27
at Air Force L 30-21
vs VMI W 51-14
vs San Jose State W 41-31
vs Notre Dame L 49-39
vs Georgia Southern W 52-19
at South Alabama W 42-40
vs Army W 17-10*
vs San Diego State W 17-16**
*M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
**San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Navy first played Army in 1891 and has an all-time record of 56-49-7 against the Black Knights. (according to football.stassen.com)
vs East Carolina
vs Air Force
at Notre Dame
vs South Florida
*Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA