Navy coach Brian Newberry has added another assistant to the offensive staff, hiring Tommy Laurendine to coach tight ends.
Laurendine comes from Mississippi College, where he was offensive coordinator for five seasons. The Choctaws ranked second nationally in Division II in rushing average this season with a program record 325 yards per game.
Newberry was a graduate assistant at Southern Arkansas when Laurendine was offensive coordinator there. When Laurendine was named head coach at Sewanee, he hired Newberry as defensive coordinator.
“I’ve known Coach Laurendine for 20 years and his knowledge of option football is as strong as anybody in the country,” Newberry said. “He’s a veteran coach who brings a wealth of experience as a coordinator and head coach.”
Laurendine was head coach and offensive coordinator at Sewanee from 2011 to 2016. The Oak Ridge, Tennessee, native served as offensive coordinator at The Citadel in 2010 after holding the same post at Lenoir-Rhyne for the previous two seasons.
Newberry was defensive coordinator at Sewanee under Laurendine for one season.
Earlier this week, Newberry announced that three offensive assistants — Ivin Jasper, Ashley Ingram and Mick Yokitis — would be retained from Ken Niumatalolo’s staff.
Ingram, now in his 16th year at Navy, was promoted from running game coordinator to assistant head coach and will continue to coach the offensive line. Jasper, with a total of 23 seasons at the academy, remains the quarterbacks coach and adds fullbacks to his responsibilities. Yokitis enters his 13th season as wide receivers coach.
Newberry must still find a slotbacks coach and The Capital has learned that former Navy assistant Mike Judge is a candidate for that post. Judge served as fullbacks coach under former head coach Ken Niumatalolo for 11 years. He resigned following the 2018 season to accept a position with the Miami Dolphins and has been with the NFL organization ever since.
Newberry addressed the hiring process during an online news conference Thursday and said it all began with securing Grant Chesnut as offensive coordinator.
“Obviously, the most important piece was finding that offensive coordinator. That was the No. 1 priority for me. I knew the other pieces would fall into place,” he said.
Some observers were surprised Jasper was brought back since he was fired by athletic director Chet Gladchuk following the 2021 Air Force game. Two days later, it was announced that Jasper would remain at Navy but no longer hold the title of offensive coordinator.
“I’m happy to have Coach Jasper back guiding our quarterbacks. He’s one of the best quarterback coaches in the country, so we’re really fired up that he’s staying with us,” Newberry said.
Newberry praised Yokitis for building a strong culture in the wide receivers room and signaled the overall value of Ingram to the program with the promotion to assistant head coach. Newberry discussed those moves with Chesnut, who agreed with the head coach’s assessment that it was “critical” to keep those three assistants from Niumatalolo’s staff.
“The Naval Academy is a unique place, so to have that experience on that side of the ball is awesome,” Newberry said. “They are some really, really good football coaches and Coach Chesnut knows that. It’s always good to be surrounded by great coaches and get good input.”
That said, Newberry brought in Chesnut as offensive coordinator to “bring a different mindset, a different viewpoint and fresh ideas.” As defensive coordinator at Kennesaw State, Newberry schemed against Chesnut every day during practice for four years.
“It was always a challenge going against Grant. We had some epic scrimmages,” Newberry said with a smile. “We’re both very competitive so there are times when we didn’t talk to each other for a day after those scrimmages.”
Newberry said he and Chesnut are completely aligned in terms of their vision for how the revamped Navy offense should look. He wanted a coordinator who would bring flexibility and creativity to the triple-option attack.
“Grant is going to bring a level of toughness and get our players to play with an edge, a chip on their shoulder,” Newberry said. “His ability to adapt and evolve are reasons why I wanted him to lead our offense.”
Newberry tapped into his Kennesaw State connections again when hiring a strength and conditioning coordinator to focus solely on the football program. Navy announced Friday that Jim Kiritsy would assume that position after serving as assistant athletic director for sport performance at Kennesaw State from 2014 to 2022.
Kiritsy has been involved with college athletics for a total of 14 years, having also spent time at The Citadel and Vermont.
“Coach Kiritsy is regarded as one of the very best and brightest in the business,” Newberry said. “I have known him for 10 years and witnessed first-hand the tremendous impact he had on the program and student-athletes at Kennesaw State. He is an outstanding leader and person and will be a difference-maker here at Navy.”
Navy also announced Friday that Bryan Fitzpatrick has been promoted to associate athletic director for strength, conditioning and sports performance for all 35 varsity programs at the academy.