Navy will undergo new leadership on the defensive side of the ball in 2019 after Coach Ken Niumatalolo hired Brian Newberry to lead the Midshipmen as the team’s latest Defensive Coordinator. Newberry, who had recent success in the same position with FCS Kennesaw State (KSU), brought in two new assistant coaches that will guide a defensive line unit thirsty to prove themselves in the challenging American Athletic Conference.
While Kevin Downing (who was coaching with Newberry at KSU just last year) will lead the defensive ends, Jerrick Hall will focus on the defensive tackles and the veteran nose guard group. In all, the 2019 defensive line returns five letter winners and two are listed in the nose guard position in Navy’s spring depth chart.
The nose guards make up the most experienced defensive line unit for Navy and the room is certainly led by senior three-time letter winner Jackson Pittman. Pittman, listed at 6’3” and 300 pounds, has played in 39 out of a possible 40 games in his career to include 25 starts at nose guard. The Antioch, Tennessee native started all 13 games in 2018 and tallied 35 tackles and forced two fumbles.
Having the most in-game experience not only for Navy’s defensive line but also the entire defensive unit will thrust Pittman into the early spotlight. Navy will likely call on Pittman’s dynamic abilities and understanding of the game to ensure a solid 3-4 presence under Newberry’s defensive principles.
Tolentino is coming into fall camp listed second in the depth chart at the nose guard position and has provided relief for Pittman over the course of the last two seasons. His 19 career tackles have earned him two letters and he will continue to provide depth at the position in 2019.
The Saint Peter’s Preparatory School graduate has played in 22 total games and replaced the injured Pittman as a starter against SMU in 2017. Tolentino’s experience will ensure the nose guard position is a respected entity for every snap in Navy’s 2019 season.
The 6’6” junior finished the spring season atop the depth chart at the defensive end position. The Barrington, Illinois native played in five games last season, primarily as a member of the special teams unit. Perkins finished the season with three tackles which included a pair against Lehigh.
Denzel Polk played in his first collegiate game in the 2017 Military Bowl and furthered his involvement along Navy’s defensive line in 2018. The Mount Royal, New Jersey native saw action in six games as a junior last year and contributed five tackles including a career high three tackles against Cincinnati. Polk is listed second among the depth chart at left end.
Marcus Edwards saw action in every game of the 2018 season and contributed five tackles on the year, including the first of his career against Air Force. Edwards’ role increased as the season progressed and recovered a crucial Pittman forced fumble against Tulsa in Navy’s 37-29 win over the Golden Hurricane. The 6’4” 289-pound senior has the edge as the starting defensive tackle heading into the Midshipmen’s 2019 campaign.
Other names worth following this season include sophomore J’arius Warren who impressed the coaching staff at the LE position and junior Tobe Okafor who will undoubtedly contribute at the tackle position.