Anthony D'Angelo comes from an Army family, but he committed to play Navy football
By BILL WAGNER | The Capital | Published: February 11, 2021
(Tribune News Service) — Anthony D'Angelo has a strong connection to the United States Army.
A great-grandfather was an Army soldier who fought in World War II, and a grandfather saw combat duty for the same service branch during the Vietnam War. Terry D'Angelo, his father, enlisted in the Army and achieved the rank of sergeant before retiring.
"I grew up surrounded by that military culture, and it's always something I wanted to pursue," Anthony D'Angelo said.
That family history is the main reason D'Angelo told Kent Island High football coach Damian Ferragamo he was interested in attending Army West Point. Ferragamo took the liberty of also sending the youngster's highlight tape to Air Force and Navy.
"Anytime a player mentions a service academy, I send out their film to all three," Ferragamo said.
That decision paid dividends for D'Angelo, who was surprised when he received a direct message to his Twitter account from Navy assistant Ashley Ingram. "Love your tape," wrote Ingram, who asked the prospect to submit all his academic information.
D'Angelo was offered by Navy in December and quickly committed. The Queenstown resident had previously given a verbal pledge to Columbia of the Ivy League, admitting in hindsight "I kind of jumped the gun a bit."
D'Angelo learned more about the Annapolis service academy from his personal trainer — Evan Eichler of the Eastern Shore Performance Center. Eichler is Director of Warriors for Tomorrow, which trains the SEAL selects at the Naval Academy.
"I always thought I wanted to go to Army, but my whole mindset shifted the more I learned about Navy. I just realized Navy was the place I wanted to be," said D'Angelo, acknowledging the logistics work out much better for his family.
D'Angelo, a two-way lineman for Kent Island during the 2019 season, is listed as a weakside defensive end by most recruiting services. He is among 64 current high school seniors The Capital has confirmed as committed to the Navy football program.
Army, Air Force and Navy do not sign athletic recruits to national letters of intent since they must go through the appointment and admissions process. Navy football will not announce its official incoming class until after those players enroll at the academy for plebe summer in July.
That list will largely consist of players that attended the Naval Academy Prep School during the 2020-21 academic year. It will include a small percentage of prospects coming directly from the high school ranks.
D'Angelo, who boasts a 4.2 weighted grade point average and SAT score of 1,230, has been told he has been approved for direct entry into the Naval Academy. He is considering cyber security as a major, not surprising since his father is an intelligence analyst with the government.
"Anthony already has a college body and moves extremely well for someone of his size," Ferragamo said. "He's very athletic with the ability to pursue and make tackles all over the field."
D'Angelo played varsity as a sophomore at Queen Anne's High before transferring to the rival school as a junior. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder was named first team All-Bayside Conference as an offensive tackle and second team as a defensive lineman.
Kent Island defensive coordinator Tim Goodrich said D'Angelo has the versatility to play any position along the defensive line and excelled as an edge rusher in passing situations.
"Anthony was a matchup problem for every team in the Bayside Conference," Goodrich said. "He's very knowledgeable about football, really understands the game."
Goodrich, whose oldest son Ben played lacrosse at Navy and is now flying helicopters, believes D'Angelo has a tremendous upside. "Anthony has an impressive wingspan and the type of frame that could easily add 20 to 25 pounds," he said.
With the decision made and all the paperwork filed, D'Angelo can now learn more about the Naval Academy and specifically the football program from Kent Island's linebacker coach. Ben Mathews was a standout inside linebacker at Navy from 2000 to 2004.
"I definitely plan to talk to coach Mathews about what it takes to get through the academy," D'Angelo said.
An older brother, Nic D'Angelo, is a 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive lineman with the Towson football program.
D'Angelo has spent the last couple months reviewing tape of Navy football games to familiarize himself with defensive coordinator Brian Newberry's scheme. He was told by Ingram to pay special attention to defensive end Jackson Perkins, whose high motor and ability to execute assignments drew high praise from the Navy defensive staff.
Rivals.com lists Navy football with 77 commitments, majority of which received two-star grades. According to Rivals, the Midshipmen picked up seven three-star recruits — linebackers Jared Behrens and Patrick Turner, defensive back Roderic Lewis and Tyler Gaskin, offensive lineman Brody Crane, defensive end Jake Lusk and running back Cameron Smith.
In years past, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo has conducted an interview with The Capital following the February national signing period to talk in general terms about Navy's recruiting class. Navy athletics spokesman Scott Strasemeier said last week the 14th-year coach will discuss recruiting with the media after the incoming recruits take the "oath of office" on induction day to start plebe summer.