Naval Academy Honors Football Team At Annual Banquet
ANNAPOLIS, Md.-The annual Naval Academy football banquet was held Friday evening at Alumni Hall where several prestigious awards were handed out.
Navy finished the 2013 campaign with a 9-4 record, won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the ninth time in the last 11 years, qualified for a bowl game for the 10th time in the last 11 years, won a bowl game for just the eighth time in school history and defeated Army for a series-record 12th-consecutive year.
This year’s team is just the fifth in Navy’s 132-year history of playing football to win at least nine games in a season, beat Army and win a bowl game. The 1957, 1978, 2004 and 2009 teams also achieved that feat.
Navy has won at least nine games five times in the last 10 years. Before the current streak, Navy had won nine or more games just five times in the previous 77 seasons.
Navy’s senior class finished with a 31-20 (.627) record over four seasons in Annapolis, qualified for three bowl games, won a bowl game and won three Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies.
Sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds (Antioch, Tenn.) was named the winner of the E.E. “Rip” Miller Award, which is presented to the season’s most valuable player as voted on by his teammates. This is the second-consecutive year that Reynolds has won the award after becoming the first freshman to win the award last year. Reynolds was also named the winner of the Roger Staubach Award, which is presented to the varsity football player who demonstrated consistent, outstanding leadership and an “Expect to Win” attitude in contributing to the team’s success during the season and embodied honor, courage and commitment on and off the playing field.
Reynolds had one of the greatest seasons by a Navy football player in history, rushing for 1,346 yards and 31 touchdowns, while throwing for 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns. His 31 rushing touchdowns not only was a school record, but an NCAA record for a quarterback. He is just the fourth player in NCAA history (any position) to rush for 30 or more touchdowns in a single season. He finished the 2013 campaign No. 1 in the country in scoring per game (14.7 points per contest), tied for first in touchdowns (31) and tied for 11th in points responsible for per game (18.2). His 1,3446 rushing yards are the 14th most in NCAA history by a quarterback and the third most in school history by any player. His seven rushing touchdowns against San Jose State set an NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in any game and tied the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by any player against an FBS opponent. His 188 points this season eclipsed the school record of 174 set by Bill Ingram back in 1917. His 236 points responsible for (31 rushing touchdowns, eight passing touchdowns, one two-point conversion) shattered the previous school record of 198 set by Ricky Dobbs in 2009.
Senior linebacker Cody Peterson (Olympia, Wash.) took home the Jeffrey R. Korn Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award, which is given annually to the first classman on the team who has demonstrated excellence both in the classroom and on the football field. He was also the recipient of the First Lieutenant Ron Winchester Unsung Hero Award, which is presented to an unheralded senior recognized as an overachiever and role model as selected by a vote of his teammates.
Peterson, a co-captain this past fall, had a standout senior campaign where he led the Navy defense with 142 tackles, including 94 solo stops. He also recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss. Peterson finished tied for second in the country in solo tackles per game (7.2 per contest) and finished tied for seventh in total tackles per game (10.9 per game). His 142 tackles this year were the most by a Navy player since Javier Zuluaga had 146 in 1992.
Senior Justin Haan (Byron City, Mich.) was named the winner of the Cmdr. Ralph Sentmann Award, which honors the member of the graduating class from the varsity football team who has achieved the highest ranking in academic order of merit. Haan, who is majoring in International Relations, carries a 3.78-grade point average.
Senior linebacker DJ Sargenti (Ridgefield, N.J.) was the recipient of the Joe Bellino Award, which is presented to the varsity football player whose inspiring on-the-field performance made a significant impact on the team and contributed to its overall success during the season.
Sargenti, who had never recorded a tackle prior to this season and wasn’t moved to inside linebacker until the beginning of fall practice, recorded 110 tackles on the year, including 71 solo stops. He finished 25th in the country in solo tackles per game, averaging 5.5 per contest, and 62nd in total tackles, averaging 8.5 per game. Sargenti and Peterson are the first duo to reach 100 tackles in a season since 2005 when Rob Caldwell recorded 140 tackles and Jake Biles had 109.
Senior slot back and kick returner Marcus Thomas (Baton Rouge, La.) was named the winner of the the Napoleon McCallum Award, which is presented to the Navy varsity football player of the graduating class who has gained the most all-purpose yards in his career.
Thomas finished his career with 2,768 all-purpose yards, including a school-record 2,338 yards on kickoff returns. Thomas had a sensational senior campaign rushing for 263 yards on 26 carries (10.1 yards per rush), catching five passes for 94 yards (18.8 yards per catch) and returning 24 kickoffs for 564 yards (23.5 yards per return).
Senior nose guard Travis Bridges (Hollywood, Fla.) was awarded the George Fritzinger Memorial Award, presented annually to a member of the graduating class who as a football interior lineman has excelled as a student-athlete and contributed to the overall team leadership and spirit.
Bridges came to Navy as an offensive lineman, but moved to nose guard last year and had a breakout campaign as a senior playing in all 13 games, making four starts, and recording 25 tackles and forcing a fumble. Bridges was part of Navy’s goal-line stand against Middle Tennessee State in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, teaming with George Jamison to stop the Blue Raiders on fourth and one.
Freshman slot back Calvin Cass Jr. (Sicklerville, N.J.) was awarded the Collins/Roos Class of 1949 Junior Varsity MVP Award, presented annually to the most valuable player on the junior varsity football team as chosen by a vote of his teammates.
Cass helped lead the JV team to a 2-1 record and is expected to compete for playing time on the varsity next fall. A 2013 graduate of St. Augustine Prep School, Cass was a three-sport athlete who earned letters in basketball, football and track & field (sprints). He earned First-Team All-Cape Athletic League honors, as well as First-Team All-South Jersey recognition in football as he led the state of New Jersey and set high school records for rushing yards (2,001) and touchdowns (37) as a senior (on 257 carries). His father, Calvin Sr., was a star running back at West Point.
Senior linebacker Michael Tuimavave (Daly City, Calif.) was named the winner of the Cooke Award, which is given to the player who has done the most to promote team spirit.
Despite not seeing much action his final two years, Tuimavave was one of the inspirational leaders of the team. He possessed a great attitude and was an integral part of the great chemistry that permeated throughout the 2013 squad.
Also recognized were the following who earned postseason honors.
Junior guard Jake Zuzek (Brookhaven, Pa.) was named to the USA Today All-Bowl Team, while junior safety George Jamison (Cordova, Tenn.) was named to the ESPN.Com All-Bowl Team.
Reynolds was named the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Most Valuable Player for Navy, the Male Athlete of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio, the MVP of the Army-Navy Game presented by the Philadelphia Sportswriters Association, the recipient of the Tony Rubino Silver Helmet Award presented by the Annapolis Touchdown Club and for being named an Honorable Mention All-American by Sports Illustrated.
Reynolds, Zuzek, junior tackle Bradyn Heap (South Jordan, Utah), Peterson, freshman corner Brendon Clements (Miami, Fla.) and Thomas were named All-East by the ECAC.
Reynolds and Peterson were selected First-Team All-Independent by Phil Steele.
SB Nation tabbed Reynolds its Independent Offensive Player of the Year and Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo the Independent Coach of the Year.
Peterson was selected to the East-West Shrine All-Star game in St. Petersburg, Fla. He did not play in the game due to surgery on his shoulders.
Nine Navy football players were named to the 2013 FBS All-Independent Team. Reynolds was named the 2013 FBS All-Independent Offensive Player of the Year. Joining Reynolds on the All-Independent First Team were Heap, Peterson and junior safety/cornerback Parrish Gaines (Smyrna, Tenn.). Honorable mention selections for the Midshipmen included junior punter Pablo Beltran (Humble, Texas), Clements, junior outside linebacker Chris Johnson (Cape Coral, Fla.), Thomas and Zuzek.