Two more assistants depart Navy football staff
By BILL WAGNER | The Capital | Published: February 21, 2019
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — With the start of spring practice less than a month away, it stood to reason the shakeup of the Navy football coaching staff was complete.
However, the offseason turnover has continued due to a pair of unexpected departures.
Assistants Justin Davis and Mike Judge, who had been with the program for 12 and 11 years, respectively, both resigned recently.
Judge, who coached the fullbacks throughout his tenure at Navy, has accepted a position with the Miami Dolphins. Davis, who has coached defensive line and outside linebackers, left the program to pursue a business opportunity.
That means Navy will have a total of seven new assistant coaches when the 2019 season begins – the most significant turnover of the staff during the current triple-option era that began in 2002.
Defensive coordinator Dale Pehrson announced his retirement in late December while head coach Ken Niumatalolo subsequently fired assistants Tony Grantham (defensive ends), Napoleon Sykes (outside linebackers) and Dan O’Brien (safeties). Defensive line coach Sione Po’uha left to take the same position at his alma mater Utah.
Judge was hired as a defensive quality control assistant by newly-named Miami head coach Brian Flores. Judge and Flores worked together with the New England Patriots.
Judge began his coaching career as a quality control assistant with the New England Patriots under legendary head coach Bill Belichick from 2003 through 2006. He worked as a defensive assistant for coordinator Eric Mangini and as an offensive assistant for coordinator Josh McDaniels. The former triple-option quarterback at Springfield College spent four years as an intern with the Patriots.
“This was an opportunity that was too good to be true. I could not pass up the opportunity to work for a solid organization with an up-and-coming head coach,” Judge told The Capital on Wednesday morning. “I’ve had a desire to get back to the NFL and everything sort of aligned perfectly with this situation.”
Judge spent one season as wide receivers coach at Harvard before being hired by Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo to oversee the fullbacks after Chris Culton was shifted to offensive line. Judge helped develop such standout fullbacks as Eric Kettani, Noah Copeland, Chris Swain and Anthony Gargiulo among others.
“Our fullback play has been phenomenal during Mike’s tenure and that’s a testament to his ability to coach that position,” Niumatalolo said. “Mike has meant a lot to our program and been a big part of our success. He’s done a great job of recruiting and mentoring players and brought a lot to the table on the offensive side in terms of innovative ideas. We are definitely going to miss Mike Judge.”
Judge acknowledged it was difficult to leave a program that meant so much to his professional development and praised Niumatalolo and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper for their mentorship.
“I will always be deeply indebted to Coach Niumat for taking a chance on a 24-year-old who didn’t have a lot of experience,” Judge said. “I grew a ton as a football coach and a man, as a husband and father, during my time here in Annapolis. I had an opportunity to work for a great man and to work with some unbelievably outstanding kids. The Naval Academy is a special place and I will never forget my time here.”
Davis was hired by former Navy head coach Paul Johnson in 2007 after Tony Grantham left for Campbell. It was the New York native’s first full-time job after serving as a graduate assistant at both Toledo and Louisiana Tech.
Davis initially assisted Dale Pehrson with the defensive line, but was switched to outside linebackers after four seasons. He coached both outside linebacker positions for a while then focused solely on the Raider spot.
“Justin was a very energetic and passionate coach who wore his emotions on his sleeve,” Niumatalolo said. “He was a very personable, outgoing guy who was loved by all the coaches and players. He was also a tremendous recruiter who brought a lot of talented players into our program. I’m personally going to miss JD.”
Davis married a local resident and St. Mary’s High graduate and has settled into Edgewater with his family. The 40-year-old told The Capital this was a lifestyle decision while admitting it was difficult to give up coaching.
“I have an opportunity with corporate America that is very promising and I just felt like this was a good time to step back from coaching,” Davis said. “This is all about getting more family time and taking a break for a bit. I’m leaving on my terms.”
Davis said he might volunteer as an assistant with one of the high school programs in Anne Arundel County after settling into his new sales job.
“Coaching is in my blood and I’ve been doing it ever since I graduated college,” Davis said. “I’m sure I’ll coach again in some capacity.”
Davis, like Judge, learned how to be a college football coach at the Naval Academy while working under a pair of veteran defensive coordinators in Buddy Green and Dale Pehrson.
“It was a dream come true type of job to be associated with an institution that represents so much and to interact daily with the greatest young people in America. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Davis said. “I love the Naval Academy, love Annapolis and am looking forward to remaining part of the community.”
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