Wide receiver Devin Mathews headlines list of Navy football players entering transfer portal

Wide receiver Devin Mathews, who started two games last season, has entered the NCAA transfer portal. Mathews told The Capital he is leaving the Naval Academy because of mental health reasons.

A pair of wide receivers, one of which started two games last season, have announced plans to depart the Navy football program.

Devin Mathews and Tyshawn Buckner both posted to social media that they are entering the NCAA transfer portal.


Mathews started the Memphis and Tulsa games late in the season in place of an injured Mychal Cooper. The 6-foot-4, 214-pound sophomore became the top backup at the position after starter Ryan Mitchell suffered a season-ending injury.

Navy used Mathews extensively in its heavy formation in which a wide receiver lines up just outside the tackle similar to a traditional tight end.


Mathews posted a message to Twitter thanking the Navy football program for providing an opportunity “to better myself as a player and a man.” The Florida native, who decided to transfer after talking with family and praying, posted the message along with a highlight video and a note that he has three years of eligibility remaining.

In response to a direct message seeking comment, Mathews said his transfer is not related to football as much as mental health, which “entails overall happiness and motivation to be here.”

Mathews said as the fall semester progressed, he realized he was logging onto virtual meetings late or missing parts of class because he was sleeping during the day.

“The reason was because I couldn’t sleep at night thinking about what I had to deal with the following morning,” he said.

Mathews knew the situation had deteriorated when the lack of sleep and focus began to affect football activities.

“No matter what has been thrown at me in my lifetime, I’ve never let it affect football,” Mathews said. “This time around, it was affecting me on the field and in meetings, so I knew I needed to remove myself from the situation.”

Mathews said trying to “push through” would have been a disservice to himself and teammates because “I wouldn’t be able to give them everything I got.” The Palm Coast resident said he spoke to members of the coaching staff and several teammates about the decision and received “nothing but love and support.”

“It was a tough decision to make but I had to do what’s best for me,” Mathews said.


Mathews recorded three receptions for 39 yards last season, including a two-point conversion that tied the score at 24 and helped fuel the come-from-behind victory over Tulane. The Matanzas High product caught two passes for 36 yards against SMU, including a career-long 22-yarder.

Coach Ken Niumatalolo talked about Mathews’ potential toward the end of last season.

“I think Devin provides a lot of versatility. He’s got the size to be able to block at the point of attack. He’s also a big target and really good receiver,” Niumatalolo said. “Devin brings that combination of being a physical blocker and a pass threat. He’s done a really good job of stepping up and his role continues to expand.”

Buckner was third on the depth chart at the Z wide receiver spot behind Mark Walker and Marcell Gleaton at the end of last season. The 6-foot-3, 199-pound sophomore appeared in two games, making his college debut against Memphis then playing the following week versus Tulsa.

A product of Homewood High in Birmingham, Alabama, Buckner attended the Naval Academy Prep School then did not see varsity action as a plebe in 2019.

Buckner and Mathews both remain enrolled at the Naval Academy while pursuing the process of separating. Midshipmen are eligible to leave the academy without penalty any time before signing the “two-for-seven” papers at the start of their junior year.


“I entered the portal because of school, not football. The coaches and players are the reasons I had hope of staying and continue playing for the academy, but I know there’s something else I want to do in life,” Buckner said.

Cornerback David Miller, who appeared in five games last season as a member of special teams, also has announced his intention to transfer. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound freshman from Columbus, Ohio, spent the 2018-19 academic year at the Naval Academy Prep School.

Miller is a cousin of Sean Williams, starting safety and co-captain of the 2018 Navy football team. As a senior, Williams received the Tony Rubino Memorial Silver Helmet Award as Most Outstanding Player at the Naval Academy from the Touchdown Club of Annapolis.

Buckner, Mathews and Miller join safety BJ Gibson in the NCAA transfer portal. Gibson, who was third on the depth chart at the “bandit” position last season, announced his intention to leave Navy in early January.