NCF Nation: Mike Stukel

Navy coaches have spent the spring shuffling players around on offense and defense and from offense to defense and vice versa in an attempt to find the right combination to put on the field in September.

Some moves have worked, some haven’t, but one of the most anticipated moves on the offensive side is starting to pay dividends.

Prior to spring ball, coach Ken Niumatalolo announced that he was moving backup quarterback Mike Stukel to slotback. It was a move the Midshipmen wanted to do last year, but injuries to quarterbacks kept Stukel under center.

But ever since Stukel moved to slotback, he has thrived.

He started the season behind Gee Gee Greene on the depth chart, but after this weekend’s scrimmage, Stukel did enough to secure the top spot on the depth chart. Stukel broke off a long run during the scrimmage and, according to reports, finished the day with five carries for 54 yards.

“I thought our A-Backs [slots] ran hard on Saturday,” Niumatalolo said. “I am very excited about our A-Backs… [Stukel’s] always been solid. Mike does good things when he has the ball in his hands.”

Stukel shares the starting slotback position with Marcus Curry, who rushed for 585 yards and five touchdowns last season despite missing some games with injury.

Stukel’s accomplishment is even more impressive because the Midshipmen are loaded at slotback. Of the seven players listed at slotback on the depth chart, six notched stats last year, including Stukel.

Niumatalolo also announced that third-string outside linebacker Jarred Shannon would miss the season after having surgery on a shoulder that kept slipping out of place.

“He’s had lingering stuff with his shoulder slipping out,” Niumatalolo said. “He was wearing a harness to try and keep it in place, but in order for him to fully recover they have to go in and fix it so we just figured we might as well get it done.”
Navy football, which will begin spring practice at the end of the month, released its depth chart this week and there are a couple of interesting moves listed.

Junior Mike Stukel has been moved from quarterback to slot back, a move coach Ken Niumatalolo wanted to do last year, but couldn’t because of injuries to backup quarterback Kriss Proctor in the preseason and starter Ricky Dobbs during the year.

Stukel is currently listed as the second-string slot back behind Marcus Curry, who started most of last season.

Curry made headlines this offseason for failing a drug test administered by the Naval Academy. However, it was determined that Curry didn’t knowingly ingest marijuana and was allowed to stay with the team. No punishment was assessed and Curry is expected to participate in spring football.

The other major depth chart move for the Midshipmen is Mario Washington, the team’s third-leading receiver last season, listed a co-starter at cornerback with Kwesi Mitchell. Washington, a senior, had nine catches for 165 yards in 2009.

The move to corner is a spring experiment and Washington can move back to receiver if he can’t become a starter at cornerback. However, receiver is one of the deepest positions on the depth chart and Washington is athletic enough to make the move to defense work.

Navy will begin spring practice on March 29.