Navy senior quarterback Malcolm Perry made a name for himself during the 2019 season, to say the least.
Perry won American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors and led the Midshipmen to an 11-2 record, their best mark since 2015. He powered the Mids to a win against Army, breaking a three-game losing streak to the Black Knights and regaining the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in the process. Oh, and he guided Navy to a 20-17 win in the Liberty Bowl against a Kansas State team that had beaten Oklahoma earlier in the year.
Navy landed at No. 20 in the season-ending Associated Press top-25 poll, the culmination of a remarkable turnaround after finishing the 2018 season 3-10.
“It still hasn’t really hit me, the magnitude of the senior class, the whole team and the coaches, what we accomplished turning around last year’s season,” Perry said on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 10. “But there’s still work to be done with what I have to do here at school and serving my commitment out and stuff like that. I’m still pretty busy here at the academy. Definitely allowing myself to think about it and be happy about what we accomplished.”
With the 2019 season in the books, Perry can peek into the future while finishing up at the U.S. Naval Academy. He now wants to follow in the footsteps of former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft and got into two regular-season games with the Seattle Seahawks during the 2018 season.
Reynolds, who accumulated 4,559 yards and 88 touchdowns on the ground in Navy’s triple-option scheme, was given opportunities at returner and receiver in the NFL. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Perry ran for 4,359 yards and 40 touchdowns throughout his career. His 2,017 rushing yards in 2019 are a single-season NCAA rushing record for a quarterback.
Perry, who possesses electric speed and playmaking ability, says he has “bought into” playing slot receiver or running back at the next level, adding that he loves “the idea of just getting the ball in my hands in any form.” Perry is playing receiver at the East-West Shrine Game Jan. 18.
Perry said he reached out to Reynolds for advice about transitioning to the NFL from the Naval Academy while switching positions.
“He’s talked to me a couple times,” Perry said. “Anytime I have a question, he’s always open ears. He’s definitely good to have. He kind of went through the exact same situation. I think that’s probably my best resource in terms of getting knowledge on what’s going on.”
As it turns out, Perry’s timing for pursuing a professional career is solid. U.S. defense secretary Mark Esper signed a memo in November that allows military service secretaries to nominate an athlete for a pro sports waiver beginning in 2020. The new policy did not affect former Navy pitcher Noah Song, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in June 2019 and must serve two years in the Navy before pursuing his baseball career full-time.
Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo called the new policy a “game-changer” in recruiting, while Perry is thankful for the opportunities it presents for him.
“It means a lot. I’m extremely grateful for the timing of the situation. It worked out,” Perry said. “So extremely grateful for that, but also remembering that I came here for a reason. I came here to serve my country. I definitely wouldn’t want to spend four years here, learn all this great knowledge and not put it to work, so it’s definitely the best of both worlds for me because professional football is definitely something I would love to pursue. I’m hungry for it. It’s just the best of both worlds for me.”
What would it be like to hear his name called during the draft in late April?
“That would be right up there with beating Army,” Perry said. “As a kid, that’s something that you fantasize about. It’s definitely up there. That would be a big moment in my life.”
For more from Perry, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox