Wyatt Middleton has been the heart of the Navy defense for some time now, so it was not surprising to see him make the game-changing play this past weekend against Army.
With the Black Knights poised to get into the end zone and cut into a 17-7 Navy lead, Tyler Simmons forced Army quarterback Trent Steelman to fumble. Middleton was there to return the fumble 98 yards for a touchdown -- the first Navy defensive score of the season. The Midshipmen won their ninth straight in the rivalry game, and Middleton was selected MVP of the game.
I had a chance to speak with Middleton before the game last week about the coming end of his career. Here you have a player who has started 47 straight games, with 204 solo tackles, who earned his role as team captain. But as with most every service academy player, his story is more impressive than what happens on the football field. Middleton took 17 credit hours during the fall and is on pace to graduate in May with a degree in systems engineering. He already has his assignment as a surface warfare engineering duty officer, and would welcome working with robotics during the time he serves in the Navy.
But an opportunity to play in the NFL might come first. His brother, William, was a fifth-round choice out of Furman and has spent the past two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Middleton would love an opportunity to join his brother in the pros.
"It’s been a dream of mine to play at the top level," Wyatt said in the phone interview. "My brother living his dream right now makes me want to live the dream even more."
Wyatt Middleton says he has had scouts come watch him at practice, though he has not gotten much feedback about where he stands. He wants to finish this season out before thinking about his potential pro future. All Service Academy athletes have to serve a minimum of two years before putting up a request to have their remaining three years doubled in the reserves. Each request goes to the respective Secretaryand it is up to them if they want to grant it.
Navy has one game left against San Diego State in the S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23.
If Navy wins, this senior class would tie the class of 1909 as the winningest in Navy history. It would also be the first time Navy notches 10 wins in back-to-back seasons. Middleton has been a big reason for all the success.