Navy’s summer search for a new NCAA football pilot

The NCAA is considering a six-week plan for schools to prepare for the start of their seasons that includes two weeks when teams can hold walk-throughs before full practices start.

And practice can’t come soon enough for the United States Naval Academy. What do they say when one’s child gets married? “You’re not losing a daughter, you’re gaining a son-in-law?”

Navy isn’t just losing a dynamic starting quarterback with the graduation of Malcolm Perry, it’s gaining a quarterback competition that could go a long way toward determining how successful 2020 will be for the Midshipmen.

Perry rushed for 2,017 yards and 21 touchdowns last fall and threw for 1,084 yards and seven more scores. He is now attempting to stick with the Miami Dolphins in the NFL as a slot receiver after being taken in the seventh round.

“We’re obviously very proud and very excited for Malcolm,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “He’s definitely earned it. I couldn’t be more happy for a more deserving guy. It means a lot to him, and it means a lot to our program.”

While the Midshipmen are primarily a running team (they led the nation in rushing with 360.5 yards per game in 2019), success through the air is often a barometer for what sort of season they’ll have.

In 2018, the team ranked 11th in the American Athletic Conference in passing efficiency and finished 3-10. Last year the team led the AAC in that category and went 11-2. Quality instead of quantity is the focus in Annapolis, as an effective air attack can keep opposing defenses from creeping the line of scrimmage.

Perry made a huge leap as a senior and his departure creates a void made even bigger with spring practice, canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For us being a team that lost our quarterback, it’s a huge loss,” Niumatalolo said. “We were trying to see who our quarterback is this season. And not having spring ball was definitely a loss.”

There are no shortage of heirs apparent in the program. Rising sophomore Perry Olsen completed 2 of 8 passes for one touchdown last fall, while rising junior Tyger Goslin and rising senior Dalen Morris also saw the field in 2019.

If that trio comes up empty, slotback C.J. Williams threw four passes last fall as a junior while wide receiver Chance Warren attempted three throws last year as a sophomore; position changes aren’t out of the question in Annapolis.

“It’s going to be a fiercely competitive battle with the condensed practices that we’ll have to get ready for the season,” Niumatalolo said. “We’re going to have to try to determine that guy as quickly as we can so we can give him the proper amount of reps.”

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