Navy football is losing its leading returning rusher, a surprising development that is a gut punch for an offense hoping to recover from a disappointing 2020 season.
Multiple sources told The Capital that projected starting fullback Jamale Carothers has been dismissed from the Naval Academy because of an honor code offense. He has entered the NCAA transfer portal and will spend his senior season elsewhere.
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.
Naval Academy spokesperson Cmdr. Alana Garas declined comment when asked about the status of Carothers. Garas said personnel matters involving current or former midshipmen are protected by the Privacy Act established in 1974 by the Department of Justice.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo referred all inquiries about Carothers to the Naval Academy public affairs office. Carothers did not immediately respond to a direct message sent through his Twitter account.
Losing Carothers is a major blow for the Navy offense as he was the only proven and productive ball-carrier coming back next season. 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.
Provided Navy received improved play at the quarterback position and more effective blocking from the offensive line in 2021, the coaching staff was confident Carothers could return to the form he showed as a sophomore.
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 non-quarterback.
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.
Carothers signed what are known as “2 for 7” papers prior to starting classes as a junior. That document binds midshipmen to completing their final two years of undergraduate studies at the Naval Academy and serving five years following graduation.
Any member of the Brigade of Midshipmen that does not graduate from the academy after triggering their 2 for 7 requirement — whether due to dismissal or not meeting academic or military responsibilities — can be subject to recoupment for the educational benefits accrued during their time at the Naval Academy.
Recoupment can be ordered as a monetary reimbursement to the federal government for the cost of a Naval Academy education or through active enlisted service.
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Disenrollment from the Naval Academy along with recoupment decisions are made by the Naval Academy and Department of Navy leadership based off policies addressing a breach of the service agreement.