The Navy football program sent out a draft-like Twitter post with a composite photo coinciding with the 2016 NFL Draft in late April. It featured head shots of Navy’s seniors about to graduate with this headline:
ALL 32 SENIORS WERE SELECTED IN THE FIRST ROUND TO THE GREATEST TEAM IN THE WORLD
Annapolis wasn’t trolling the NFL. Navy’s football coaches simply confirmed their recruiting pitch that they promised the players as high school seniors.
Football players at Navy, Army or Air Force may not be one of the 4-star prospects projected to have an NFL future, but they graduate with two advantages in an uncertain world: a guaranteed job and no college loan debt.
That may not separate them from the tiny percentage of players that ink lucrative NFL deals, but it certainly draws a line in the transition to life after football and with other college graduates in today’s economy.
Two of the 32 Navy seniors that did end up with NFL opportunities were quarterback Keenan Reynolds and fullback Chris Swain. Reynolds was drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens and Swain signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego Chargers.
With the NFL season about to start, Reynolds was cut from the 53-man roster but re-signed by the Ravens to their practice squad. Swain also was cut but hasn’t been picked up. But without football, there is a job waiting for them.
Navy linebacker Myer Krah spoke about the security the 2016 graduates feel in an interview with Today’s U. He’s an Ensign serving at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.
“The first time it hit me was the Army-Navy Game; that was huge for me,” Krah said. “I knew football was over, but I wasn’t worried about life. A lot of guys finish football and they don’t know what’s next. Maybe they think they have to get an agent. Maybe they realize they don’t have an NFL future and they have to get a job.
“I fully enjoyed my four years at Navy. I learned a lot, and I’ve had chances to travel. When I graduated, I thought, ‘Wow. I don’t have a worry in the world right now.’”
Upon graduation, Krah had 30 days leave. When he reported to duty, his first assignments included flying to Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal.
He has since returned stateside assigned to a destroyer in Norfolk, where he’s also attending cyber security school. He is newly married to the former Tina Williams, a Navy graduate he met in an English class. She also is stationed in Norfolk.
“Some people might complain about jumping into life like us,” Krah said. “But I know those are things a lot of college kids wish they had. We got an apartment, my wife got a new car and I got a puppy. We’re leading people without having to stand by the wayside and figure out what we’re going to do. The Navy is sending us to school. I’ve got a degree that translates into the world.”
Krah signed on to his Navy commitment with little military background. He had led Durham (N.C.) Hillside to a state title when his recruiting trip to Annapolis opened his eyes.
“There are definitely tough times at the academy, but you learn you can lean on guys,” Krah said. “Family means everything to me, and I saw at the academy everything is family. The school is broken up into companies. You have your leaders and everyone else is your peer. They are your family.”
Krah spent his first year at the Navy Prep School in Rhode Island before admission to Annapolis. His first three seasons, he played backup defensive back and special teams roles with two starts.
Krah’s junior year, strong play in an emergency to replace an injured outside linebacker ticketed him for a starting job in 2015 coming out of spring drills, but he suffered an injury in fall camp.
His senior season was limited in an injury-plagued year, but it wasn’t the end of his world.
“The second time it hit me was graduation,” Krah said. “It didn’t feel real, that I was done; that I was set for life if I wanted to be. You can do your five years and you can recommit. By the time you’re 40, you can retire. I can say my time at Navy definitely paid off.”
Follow Tom Shanahan of Today’s U on Twitter: @shanny4055