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Former Navy football fullback Jamale Carothers transfers to Western Kentucky, located in his hometown

Former Navy fullback Jamale Carothers, shown against BYU last season, announced Monday via Twitter that he is transferring to Western Kentucky. Carothers was dismissed from the Naval Academy in May.
Former Navy fullback Jamale Carothers, shown against BYU last season, announced Monday via Twitter that he is transferring to Western Kentucky. Carothers was dismissed from the Naval Academy in May. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

Jamale Carothers will complete his college football career in his hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The former Navy fullback announced Monday via Twitter that he is transferring to Western Kentucky. Carothers entered the NCAA transfer portal after being dismissed from the Naval Academy in early May.

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“Many great universities and well-respected coaches reached out once I entered the portal. I appreciate all of you for showing interest,” Carothers wrote on his Twitter feed. “However, after many discussions with my family, I have made my decision ... I’m coming home.

“Thank you to Coach [Tyson] Helton and WKU for the opportunity to wear the red and white. Let’s Go Tops!”

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The Bowling Green Daily News confirmed that Carothers has officially signed with Western Kentucky and will be eligible this fall.

Carothers played in 20 games with 12 starts as a sophomore and junior at Navy, rushing for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 203-pounder also totaled eight receptions for 208 yards and three scores over the previous two seasons.

Carothers would have been a senior at the Naval Academy during the 2021 season and was listed atop the depth chart coming out of spring camp. He was dismissed due to a violation of academy rules.

Losing Carothers is a major blow for the Navy offense as he was the only proven and productive ball-carrier coming back. He ranked second on the squad with 358 rushing yards in 2020 after losing the starting spot to senior Nelson Smith six games into the season.

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Provided Navy got improved quarterback play and better blocking, the coaching staff was confident Carothers could return to the form he showed as a sophomore. He was the breakout star that season after not seeing any varsity action in 2018 as a plebe.

After starting the 2019 season on the scout team, Carothers caught the coaching staff’s attention and made the travel squad for a road game at Tulsa. He came off the bench to rush for 52 yards and a touchdown and catch a 26-yard pass in that contest.

Carothers replaced Smith as the starter for the seventh game against Connecticut and responded by rushing for 65 yards and three touchdowns. However, the breakout contest for Carothers came at Houston as he shredded the defense for 188 yards and five touchdowns, the latter a program record for a nonquarterback.

Blasting through big holes created by the offensive line for an inside trap play, Carothers showed explosiveness and finishing speed in breaking loose for a 75-yard touchdown. He also scored on runs of 8, 17, 19 and 29 yards in that game, while catching a 41-yard pass from quarterback Malcolm Perry for good measure.

“Gratitude. That is what I feel when I look back over the last four years,” Carothers wrote on Twitter Monday. “Having the opportunity to play football for the United States Naval Academy, and represent the Midshipmen, was a true honor and something that I will always cherish.

“Thank you to Coach [Ken] Niumatalolo who took me in as a young kid and helped mold me into the man that I am today. To my teammates that quickly became family, thank you. Football is the ultimate team sport and battling with you guys each day was a privilege.”

Carothers is the latest in a long list of transfers signed by Western Kentucky, which is hoping to overhaul an offense that struggled last season. Adam Cofield is a running back that transferred from North Dakota State, which captured three consecutive Football Championship Subdivision national championships during his career.

Gaej Walker, Western Kentucky’s leading rusher the last two seasons, is no longer with the program. However, the Hilltoppers do return Jakairi Moses, the team’s third-leading rusher behind Walker and starting quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome last season. Pigrome, a transfer from Maryland, is also no longer with the program.

Carothers was the 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year for Kentucky after rushing for 1,410 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior. He added another 884 yards and 11 scored on 45 receptions while leading Bowling Green High to the Class 5-A state championship.

Carothers graduated as the program’s all-time leader in rushing yards (3,921) and total points (514) after leading Bowling Green High to a 55-3 record and three state titles. He also earned first team All-State honors and was named Mr. Football in Kentucky by the Associated Press.

Carothers spent the 2017-18 academic year at the Naval Academy Prep School.

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