Niumatalolo talks Navy's 2008 recruiting class
The group is a mix of recent high school graduates and players who spent last season at Navy’s prep school in Newport, R.I.
Niumatalolo spoke with Recruiting Report last week about the class.
How does it feel to have your first class completed and how would you rate the group?
Well we’re very excited about the group. It‘s a pretty athletic group. I feel like it filled a lot of needs, but I’ve learned here in my 11th season to wait on judgment because there’s still so much these young men have to go through. I’m excited first of all that everyone showed up [for Induction Day last week], so I’m excited about the class.
I’ve always looked at it as our team. I think it’s a great cross section as far as geography and their positions. A great mix of all-around players. I’ve always looked at it as our class and our team. I don’t look at it as my class.
How much of the class was in place before Paul Johnson left for Georgia Tech?
We had our [Naval Academy Preparatory] School kids, who were part of coach Johnson’s class. But the majority of the guys who were seniors in high school were pretty much recruited after [Johnson left Navy]. That’s pretty much how you recruit around here. The ball starts rolling a little bit later at military schools. Some of the weeding out process starts a little later. ... Nowadays schools start getting commitments from juniors, so it’s a little bit later at an academy due to the application process and screening process being a little bit harder.
You have five quarterbacks listed in the class. Was that a position of emphasis for you, and what can you tell us about the guys you brought in?
No, that’s always been a way that we recruit here. We’ve always recruited a lot of quarterbacks due to the fact that we’re an option team. We’ll always play the best guy, but we feel that if the guy’s not the best [quarterback], we can play him at slot back, receiver, [defensive back]. Jeremy McGown, he started for us for four years at [defensive back], but he was a recruited quarterback. So it’s kind of been our policy to recruit several athletic quarterbacks. From a physical standout they have what you’re looking for, and also from a mental standpoint. [A high school quarterback will have] a good grasp of the game schematically. So that’s kind of our philosophy in [quarterback] recruiting.
Well we’re excited about all of them. We feel that they’re good football players that are going to make an impact in our program. So we’re excited about all of them. They’re guys that definitely have a chance to compete early on. It remains to be seen how fast they pick up the offense or defense and adjust to plebe summer. But they’re great young men from great families and they’re good football players.
What types of schools did Navy recruit against this year?
It’s pretty much a wide range of schools. Obviously, the other two service academies, the Ivy League schools, I-AA schools. Every now and then we might go against a lower tier Division I team. But we don’t go against BCS schools or major conferences schools at all in recruiting. ... We’re looking for good football players that a BCS school passed on for whatever reasons. Someone like [former Midshipmen slot back] Reggie Campbell, who was maybe an inch or two too short [for the BCS schools]. For some reason these players didn’t meet the measuring stick for the BCS schools. Those are the guys we’re trying to get.
Has Navy’s success made it easier to recruit nationwide? Are you finding more kids seeking out the program?
Oh yes. Their interest level has definitely picked up. Kids know -- the military is always a factor -- but the kids know that with the academy you’re going to get a great education. At the Naval Academy, you’re going to play good football and have the chance to compete at a very high level. That intrigues guys. You get to play Notre Dame, play in a bowl game and visit the White House. The academics and career opportunities are always going to be here and they’re always going to be factors. And right now our football program is doing OK and hopefully we can keep it going.
Which of the freshmen do you see making immediate impacts?
There’s a couple kids, but like I said, I kind of try to get away from anointing someone that will come in and play. We’ve got our preconceptions of things. We evaluate these guys throughout [the recruiting process] and have an opinion of who we think might help us, but sometimes that backfires. You think a guy will be better, but then you get here [and it might not work out]. We just kind of let things play out. We feel like we have a pretty good idea, but I’ve kind of got away from saying this guy is going to do this or that, and just roll out the ball and evaluate when they get here.
Sun photo of Ken Niumatalolo by Doug Kapustin / November 23, 2007