It is hard enough for head coach Ken Niumatalolo and his staff to prevent players transferring out of the Navy football program to play at other schools. The Mids combination of academic requirements, Naval officer training, and the demands of football life, make it very difficult to keep players around. This is especially true for those fringe players that will get little – or no –playing time in the foreseeable future.
For many of those guys it is easier to just transfer out of the program. While few make the same noise that safety Alohi Gilman did when he moved to South Bend to play for Notre Dame, there are others that fall out of the program to play for D2 (and lower) schools.
It is especially hard to keep quarterbacks around and invested. Quarterback is the only position on the field (with the exception of specialists like kickers and long snappers) where one player is used exclusively if they are healthy and playing well. Navy rotates through something like 10 players per game at the fullback and slotback positions, so even those lower on the depth chart are going to get playing time, but if the triple-option commander is healthy, then he is taking every snap until the game is put to bed.
Perhaps that is why sophomore quarterback prospect Jonah Llanusa has decided that football is not for him. His transfer is within the Navy athletic department as when hanging up his helmet he reached for his glove and Llanusa is going to now give it a go in the outfield for the Mids baseball program.
Niumatalolo – to his credit – was pragmatic about the news saying, “I just think Jonah went home over the summer and thought about what he wanted to do. Sometimes, guys lose the desire and football is not as fun for them. I respect his decision. One thing I know about sports is that it has to be a passion. I never try to force a kid one way or the other because it’s got to be a burning desire.”
It is tough a blow for a Navy squad still light on options under center, especially for the future. Llanusa was the starting quarterback at the Naval Academy Prep School in 2015 and his performance reviews were of the type that even at that point got you looking forward to the 2018 and beyond seasons.
Alas though it was not to be. A broken wrist coach Llanusa most of his freshman season and it seems that while he recovered physically, his heart was never back in the game. Best of luck to Llanusa in his baseball career and at least Niumatalolo knows that if he is ever looking for a quarterback he only has to run across campus to find one.