Meet the New Mids: Linebackers

Vinnie Mauro

The Navy Midshipmen graduated almost their entire linebacker corps recently. The Mids return only one player, Tyler Simmons, who has seen significant playing time. The good news is a number of inexperienced players impressed this spring practice. Better news is that the incoming class of linebackers is talented and features the highest ranked incoming recruits of the triple option era.

While these linebackers will have to prove it on the field, this looks to be the most talented group to enter the Naval Academy in the last decade.

Vinnie Mauro is the direct admit who was the highest ranked Navy recruit over the last decade. Mauro, who is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, was one of the top rated linebacker prospects in Florida. Mauro was ranked as 26th by Scout.com in the nationwide linebacker rankings. Mauro held seven scholarship offers from programs such as Wisconsin, Rutgers and Vanderbilt and Miami yet chose Navy.

The only thing that seems to surpasses Mauro's desire to one day become a Navy aviator is his desire to attack opposing ball carriers. Mauro played linebacker for one of the top echelon high school programs in the nation. Mauro is a terrific athlete with 4.6 speed in the forty-yard dash. He has exceptional quickness, speed and flies to the ball. The fiery Mauro can play inside or play either the striker or raider outside linebacker position in Buddy Green's defense. Mauro is very physical, has sideline to sideline range and very good ability to read and react. Mauro is simply a tremendous talent.

Two other inside linebackers from the prep school are exciting prospects. Shawn Reed and Brandon Killebrew excelled last year at the Naval Academy prep school. Reed was the defensive MVP and leading tackler at NAPS. Reed is a 6-foot-1, 205 pound inside linebacker from Hawaii with sideline-to-sideline range. Reed is very active, aggressive and is a sure tackler. He possesses 4.6 speed in the forty-yard dash and can drop into coverage. While undersized for an inside linebacker he has been very productive. As a high school senior Reed posted 112 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. Reed chose Navy over Army. Brandon Killebrew (6-0, 210) is a Maryland native who made the All-State team as a high school senior in 2008. Killebrew possesses 4.52 speed and has a 36-inch vertical leap. He chose Navy over a number of FBS school offers including one from Michigan State. The fiery Killebrew is strong and can bench press 225 pounds an NFL combine like 26 times. Killebrew is an excellent physical specimen and an intense competitor. He has terrific range and a burst to the ball.

Another linebacker from the prep school is Colin Renton. Renton (6-0, 215) is a linebacker from Texas who is a tough, physical outside linebacker with 4.65 forty yard dash speed. Renton chose Navy over offers from Air Force and Army. He missed the second half of last year with injuries but is now healthy.

The other outside linebacker at the prep school Andrew Glaize also battled injuries last year. Glaize (6-1, 220) is a linebacker who runs well but didn't see a lot of playing time as he spent most of the year rehabbing. In high school he was a two-sport star in both football and track

Hayden Maples was more renown as a quarterback in high school but played outside linebacker at NAPS. Maples (6-2, 185) is a good athlete from Ravenscroft, North Carolina. He is the fifth Ravenscroft graduate in the last twelve years to play for the Mids. He also returned punts last year. Maples probably projects to safety more than linebacker due to his size. In 2008 Maples passed for 1,174 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 533 yards. Maples also played defensive back and returned punts.

Michael Tuimavave will move to inside linebacker. Tuimavave (5-10, 250) is from California and played offensive line last year because of injuries at USNAPS. The plan is for him to lose weight and move back to linebacker this fall. He was a first team all-league performer who played linebacker and defensive line in high school.

There are three other direct admits in this deep and talented linebacker crop. Mike Huf (6-2, 230) is an inside linebacker with 4.8 speed from Pennsylvania. Huf has good size for a Navy linebacker. He plays faster than he times and covers a lot of ground. Huf is very physical and can stack up the running game at the point of attack. The fiery Huf chose Navy over offers from Syracuse and Akron

Evan Palelei (6-2, 230) is a linebacker from Las Vegas, Nevada. Palelei is a two-star Scout.com prospect who also had offers from Colorado, Stanford and UNLV. Palelei's father, Lonnie Palelei, spent seven years in the National Football League. Evan Palelei is fast and athletic and can play inside or outside linebacker. Palelei was named first team All-State after recording 88 tackles and nine sacks as a senior at Bishop Gorman. Palelei formed a strong bond with head coach Ken Niumatalolo who was born in America Samoa like Palelei's father.

Colten Southworth is a direct admit from Texarkana, Texas. Southworth (6-1, 195) is a linebacker who was named defensive MVP in his district. Southworth runs a 4.62 forty yard dash and has good anticipation and is a solid tackler. Southworth chose Navy over an offer from Air Force.

Next: Meet the new Mids- Special Teams.

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