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Michael McMorris pulls out of transfer portal, will remain part of Navy football program

HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 30: Marquez Stevenson #5 of the Houston Cougars makes a one handed catch as Michael McMorris #5 of the Navy Midshipmen defends during the first half on November 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD **
HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 30: Marquez Stevenson #5 of the Houston Cougars makes a one handed catch as Michael McMorris #5 of the Navy Midshipmen defends during the first half on November 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) ** OUTS - ELSENT, FPG, CM - OUTS * NM, PH, VA if sourced by CT, LA or MoD **(Bob Levey / Getty Images)

Navy football’s ongoing saga with the NCAA transfer portal has taken another turn as a second player in the span of a week has changed his mind about leaving the academy.

Cornerback Michael McMorris has decided to pull his name out of the transfer portal and remain at the Naval Academy for the 2020-2021 school year. McMorris has been reinstated to Navy’s official roster, and an athletic department spokesman confirmed he is part of the team.

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The Capital reported in mid-March that McMorris had entered the transfer portal and he seemingly confirmed the news himself by posting a link to the story to his Twitter feed. Having just completed his sophomore year of school, McMorris could have left the Naval Academy without penalty.

McMorris has completed the spring semester at the academy and the coaching staff is hopeful he will be eligible to play during the upcoming season, whenever that is held.

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“I think Mikey went through a rough patch and was struggling with some of the same things every midshipman struggles with,” Navy defensive coordinator Brian Newberry said on Thursday. “I always thought there was a chance Mikey would stay, and I’m really glad he did. He’s a really good football player and will help win football games.”

Current Navy water polo head coach Luis Nicolao is being inducted into the Collegiate Water Polo Association Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a player at the academy.

McMorris made the decision to remain at the academy one week after safety Chelen Garnes elected to leave. The Capital reported last week that Garnes, who played in all 13 games as a freshman, reentered the transfer portal.

Garnes, a product of North Point High in Charles County, initially entered the transfer portal in late March, but later withdrew. Newberry had planned to move the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder to the hybrid outside linebacker position known as striker, where he was slated to contend for the starting job.

Jake Springer, who started at striker last season, remains in the transfer portal and is rumored to be strongly considering Michigan. Springer ranked third on the team in tackles (69), while leading the Midshipmen in both tackles for loss (16) and sacks (eight).

McMorris may have ranked third behind inside linebacker Diego Fagot and nose tackle Jackson Pittman in the voting for most valuable defender for Navy. The 5-foot-9, 166-pound sophomore started all 13 games at field corner and graded out well — totaling 47 tackles and a team-high nine pass breakups.

“I thought McMorris was outstanding. If you look at how many times he got targeted and how many catches were made it was a pretty good percentage,” Newberry told The Capital in January during an interview reviewing the 2019 season.

Newberry noted that McMorris won a high percentage of 50-50 balls despite his stature and was a sure tackler.

During a telephone interview on Thursday, Newberry acknowledged the coaching staff had to decide whether to welcome back McMorris after he so publicly announced intention to leave the program. Ultimately, head coach Ken Niumatalolo makes such decisions after gathering input from position coaches.

“Mikey is a really liked member of our football team. He’s always done the right things, always had a great attitude and always worked really hard,” Newberry said. “I think it says a lot about the kid’s character and makeup that (Niumatalolo) would take him back. It won’t be without some consequence. Mikey will have to do some things to earn back our trust.”

Furman men's lacrosse, which has been led since its inception by head coach Richie Meade, has been eliminated as a varsity sport by the Greenville, South Carolina school.

Newberry believes McMorris benefited from “stepping away” from football for a while in order to “clear his mind” and “get refocused.” The second-year defensive coordinator, who works closely with the secondary, reached out several times to the Buford, Georgia native.

“I just wanted to let Mikey know I was thinking about him and was hopeful he would stick it out,” Newberry said. “I know Mikey has a lot of close friends on the team who were doing what they could to encourage and support him.”

Newberry admitted it’s a difficult situation with the Naval Academy implementing remote learning for the second half of the spring semester. Navy football players would normally spend considerable time at Ricketts Hall interacting with teammates, coaches and other support staff.

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Instead, all the players are spread out across the country with the only contact to the Navy football program coming from phone calls and Zoom video meetings. Newberry agreed some of the transfer issues could have been resolved internally had the football players been on campus participating in normal team activities and receiving regular mentorship.

“Sometimes, kids go home and have people outside the program get in their ear. It’s not an ideal situation, for sure,” Newberry said.

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