Navy football notebook: Team adopts ‘Rent is Due’ as 2020 motto; Midshipmen get time off the yard

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo looks on as his team leaves the field before taking on BYU on Monday in Annapolis. Tri-captains Billy Honaker, Cameron Kinley and Jackson Perkins announced last week the 2020 team slogan was “Rent is Due.”
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo looks on as his team leaves the field before taking on BYU on Monday in Annapolis. Tri-captains Billy Honaker, Cameron Kinley and Jackson Perkins announced last week the 2020 team slogan was “Rent is Due.” (Tommy Gilligan/AP)

It has become tradition for the Navy football captains to select a team slogan for the season.

Tri-captains Billy Honaker, Cameron Kinley and Jackson Perkins announced last week the 2020 team slogan was “Rent is Due.” Perkins revealed the motto is based off a much-publicized statement made by Houston Texans standout defensive end J.J. Watt.


“Success isn’t owned, it’s leased and rent is due very day,” Watt said.

Past mottos have been as straight-forward as “Win the Day” or “For the Culture.”


For the 2014 season, Navy went with “I Will,” which honored former Navy football player Will McKamey. A 19-year-old slotback from Knoxville, Tennessee, McKamey died March 25, 2014 while still in a coma at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He had collapsed and lost consciousness three days before during a spring football practice.

In 2016, the Navy captains who had been classmates with McKamey, including fellow slotback Toneo Gulley, selected “We Will” as the team slogan.

Last season, Navy football had to reverse course and change its original slogan following criticism of its choice of “Load the Clip.” Although unintentional, that phrase was deemed insensitive, especially considering Annapolis was still reeling from the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspapers office that killed five staff members.

Shortly after the slogan became public and there was negative reaction due to the spate of gun violence in the United States, coach Ken Niumatalolo quickly convened a meeting among the four captains. Niumatalolo apologized one day later during Navy’s Football Media Day and announced the motto had been changed to “Win the Day.”


Perkins said the entire team agreed on the 2020 slogan in February during winter workouts. Navy did not officially announce its team captains until late August because Niumatalolo wanted to wait until most of training camp had been completed before doing so.

“We wanted to focus on the fact that every day you have to come in and pay the rent,” Perkins said. “Basically, it means yesterday was yesterday. You have to pay your dues every day to be part of this team and help it get better.”

Honaker believes the phrase is applicable to the football field because it is a metaphor for putting the time and effort into achieving success.

“To me, especially as an offensive lineman, the rent being due means you have to come to work,” Honaker said. “Every day we pay rent. At the end of the week, we get the reward of playing in a football game. In order to win, you have to have built up enough rent to have it pay off.”

Give me liberty

Naval Academy officials have granted liberty to the Brigade of Midshipmen this weekend, albeit with significant restrictions.

It marks the first time the midshipmen have been allowed to leave the academy campus since returning to Annapolis in late July and August.

Plebes and members of the football have been stranded on the yard since arriving in early July.

Niumatalolo has reservations about how this weekend’s liberty will impact his football team.

“I’m definitely concerned. I’m also concerned about the mental health of our football team,” Niumatalolo said Friday. “Our guys have been on the yard longer than anybody. I believe it would not be right to keep the football players on the yard.”

Capt. Buchanan announced that liberty comes with restrictions, including not allowing the midshipmen to purchase or consume alcohol. Midshipmen are also not allowed to go to bars or clubs, wear civilian clothes, attend public gatherings, eat at sit-down indoor establishments or have overnight liberty, academy spokesperson Cmdr. Alana Garas said.

Midshipmen will be required to wear masks and their summer white uniforms while on liberty, although masks may be temporarily removed while eating or drinking. They must remain within a 20 miles radius of the chapel dome and may not be in groups of more than 10 people.

Liberty began at noon Saturday and ended between 8 and 11 p.m., depending on the class. It will start again on Sunday at 8 a.m. and end between 4:30-6 p.m. depending on the class, according to a presentation given to the midshipmen and obtained by The Capital.

“We’re going to talk to our players about being safe as far as wearing their masks and being careful about where they go and what they do,” Niumatalolo said. “I’ll have to trust our players. We have disciplined young men who will do what’s right. Hopefully, the whole brigade follows the same practices.”

Speaking during an online news conference Friday, standout inside linebacker Diego Fagot said he and several teammates plan to attend a morning service at Mariners Church then return to the home of Pastor Bill McKinney for lunch and relax time watching NFL football.

“I really don’t have any concerns. I know my teammates are very mature and know the rules the commandant has put in place for this liberty period,” said Fagot, noting he is anxious to “decompress” and enjoy some time off the yard. “I can trust the guys will stay socially distant, wear their masks, wash their hands and follow all the other recommended safety practices.”

Navy's C.J. Williams, seen scoring a touchdown against ECU last season, did not play Monday night against BYU due to an undisclosed reasons.
Navy's C.J. Williams, seen scoring a touchdown against ECU last season, did not play Monday night against BYU due to an undisclosed reasons. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

Injury report

Starting slotback C.J. Williams did not play against BYU due to undisclosed reasons. Niumatalolo had previously confirmed that Williams was not practicing and had termed the standout senior as “doubtful” for the season opener.

Senior Myles Fells and junior Chance Warren started at slotback on Monday night. Fells lead Navy in rushing with 55 yards on three carries, breaking loose for a 33-yard gain. Warren finished with minus-5 yards on two carries, getting sacked for a 10-yard loss while attempting to throw on a trick play.

Justin Smith was the only other slotback to carry the ball in the game, while Carlinos Acie and Devon High saw action.

Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said Williams has been working with assistant strength and conditioning coach Bryan Miller. The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder is seeking to start practicing at some point next week.

“C.J. is out there running around with coach Miller to see where his conditioning is,” Jasper said. “We have some time to get him ready. Hopefully, by next Tuesday or Wednesday, he is able to practice. He’s a senior who has played a lot of football, so he knows what to do. Key thing is getting into game shape.”

Williams amassed 388 total yards from scrimmage last season, averaging almost 30 yards per touch. The Texas native is a key weapon in the passing game for the Midshipmen.

“C.J. is a big playmaker. Any time he gets in the game, he’s going to make a play. We definitely need that element,” Fells said.


Meanwhile, wide receiver Ryan Mitchell suffered a minor injury just before the BYU game and was not in the starting lineup as expected. Mitchell, a returning starter, played sparingly in the game.


Sophomore Mark Walker started at wide receiver in place of Mitchell and also made his debut as punt returner. The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder from New Jersey led Navy with two receptions for 20 yards.

Mid bits

Daniel Davies made his debut as Navy punter and averaged 34.9 yards on seven attempts. The 5-foot-10, 173-pound sophomore boomed a 46-yarder on his initial opportunity then followed with poor punts of 32 and 31 yards ... Sophomore inside linebacker Tama Tuitele notched a career-high seven tackles, while senior cornerback Cameron Kinley established a career-best with six stops. Sophomore safety John Marshall made his collegiate debut and recorded five tackles ... Three points marked the second-lowest total for Navy during Niumatalolo’s 13-year tenure. The Midshipmen were shut out twice during that time — losing 42-0 to Cincinnati in 2018 and 12-0 to San Jose State in 2012.

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