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Another Navy football player, Tony Brown Jr., enters NCAA transfer portal

Tony Brown Jr., seen scoring against Air Force in October, became the third "striker" to announce his intent to transfer away from the Naval Academy.
Tony Brown Jr., seen scoring against Air Force in October, became the third "striker" to announce his intent to transfer away from the Naval Academy. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

To stay connected during the time of coronavirus, Navy football has been conducting regular Zoom meetings — both team-wide and by position.

When assistant coach Steve Johns convenes his virtual position meetings, he is seeing fewer and fewer faces on the screen.

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Johns coaches the hybrid outside linebacker position known in Navy’s system as “striker” and it is rapidly being depleted by potential transfers.

On Tuesday, Tony Brown Jr. became the third striker to announce his intent to transfer away from the academy. He joins 2019 starter Jacob Springer and converted safety Chelen Garnes in entering the NCAA transfer portal.

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“I would like to thank the Naval Academy and coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to grow as a man and play college football,” Brown wrote in Twitter post. “However, after much consideration, conversations with my family and prayer, I have decided to enter my name into the transfer portal.”

Brown, who clinched the big victory over service academy rival Air Force with a scoop and score, saw his playing time decrease over the course of last season as Springer asserted himself as the top striker.

“I would like to thank all my teammates and the brotherhood for the relationships and life-lasting memories we built on the field,” Brown wrote. “You guys have truly gotten me through the darkest of times.”

Since Brown just completed his sophomore year, he is eligible to leave the Naval Academy without penalty. The Sicklerville, New Jersey native also received an offer from Army West Point coming out of Timber Creek Regional High.

Brown received his first collegiate start in Navy’s American Athletic Conference opener against East Carolina. That was somewhat of a surprise since Springer had been listed atop the depth chart throughout preseason camp and started the opener versus Holy Cross.

Brown also started the third game at Memphis and the Nov. 1 contest at Connecticut. The 6-foot-3, 201-pounder finished his sophomore season with eight total tackles. When Air Force fumbled the ball while attempting multiple laterals on the final play from scrimmage, Brown picked up the loose ball and returned it 8 yards for a touchdown.

After Springer entered the transfer portal in mid-March, Brown and Garnes became the top candidates to replace him as the starting striker. Navy football issued an updated depth chart in late April and those two players were tied atop the depth chart at the outside linebacker position that involves both pass rushing and pass coverage.

Garnes initially entered the transfer portal in late March then later withdrew his name. However, the product of North Point High in Charles County announced in mid-May he was reentering the transfer portal.

Rising junior Dakare Coston, out of Oceal High in Virginia Beach, is the only remaining member of the most recent three-deep at the position. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder appeared in four games last season, mostly on special teams.

Navy has six players from its original 2019 roster still in the transfer portal and none have announced a destination. Springer, who led Navy in tackles for loss (16) and sacks (8), is rumored to be headed to Michigan.

Michael McMorris, who graded out as Navy’s best cornerback as a sophomore in 2019, recently removed his name from the transfer portal and intends to remain at the academy for the 2020-21 academic year.

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