Selected in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Navy standout Malcolm Perry has received approval from the Department of Defense to sign with the Miami Dolphins and play in the NFL. While the Dolphins have not yet announced their new rookie’s contract, Perry and his agency, Clarity Sports International, confirmed the deal’s completion on Monday, according to the Capital Gazette.
Perry was a standout at Navy, and played primarily at quarterback and slotback. In his final year with the Midshipmen, he was named AAC Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Conference. The 5’9”, 190 pound bullet enrolled in the NFL Draft as a wide receiver, describing the position as giving him “the best opportunity to play at the next level.”
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Who is Malcolm Perry?
Malcom Perry graduated from the United States Naval Academy as a quantitative economics major, and military service runs in the family. Both of his parents were members of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
An upbringing in Clarksville, Tennessee led to his being recruited to Austin Peay in addition to the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies. The high school quarterback hoped to try his hand as a running back, which resulted in his commitment to Navy, as they allowed him to not only play football in addition to serving, but select his position.
His time as a slot receiver didn’t last long initially. During his freshmen year, he was switched back to quarterback. But by sophomore season, his value to the Midshipmen resulted in head coach Ken Niumatalolo allowing him to float between the positions. Instead of calling signals as a backup, if Perry wasn’t gun-slinging, he would be in the slot getting valuable reps—reps that would appear as valued capital to the Miami Dolphins.
Perry ultimately spent the entirety of his senior year as the starting quarterback and co-captain of the Midshipmen. His work on the field at Navy would break two records for the school: former teammate Will Worth’s 2016 single-season total offense record, which was topped by Perry’s 2,831 yards, and Napoleon McCallum’s 1983 record for single-season rushing yardage, with 1,804. In the 2019 Liberty Bowl against Kansas State, Perry’s last collegiate showing, he received MVP honors as he led Navy to a 20-17 victory.
Pro Sports Policy
Perry was assigned to the United States Marine Corps for his mandatory post-Academy five-year military commitment. His signing with the Dolphins on Monday signals the Department of Defense’s approval of Perry’s request to forgo or postpone his obligations to the military. But just one year ago, that might not have been the case.
It is not common to see student athletes from military academies move straight from school to professional leagues. Professional teams have been wary of drafting players because of the required five-year military commitment, and many players have historically transferred schools prior to graduation to obtain eligibility.
On May 6, 2019, President Donald Trump might or might not have set change to the traditional procedure in motion. In his declaration to the West Point Black Knights football team, he stated that Division I academy players would be afforded the opportunity to play professional sports this year—a real head-scratcher to academic policymakers.
But in November, such a memorandum was signed by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The memo outlined specific guidelines for students of military academies, stating that with approval from the defense secretary, players may go pro, provided that their military obligations are eventually fulfilled, or otherwise, the costs of their educations are paid.
Perry as a Dolphin
As national service is clearly of high priority for the Dolphins’ newest rookie, it might be expected that he fulfill his service obligation at some point. For now, Perry will plan to impress in training camp, and certainly, his college experiences will be tried all over the field.
While the Dolphins seem confident at the quarterback position, stacked with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tua Tagovailoa, and Josh Rosen (for now), they have on their hands an experienced offensive utility, expected to play as a running back/wideout flex in the preseason. Head coach Brian Flores might take notes from former Patriots colleague Bill O’Brien and train him into another incarnation of a Joe Webb, or perhaps utilize him in creative plays and on special teams as the Saints have with Taysom Hill.
Undoubtedly, Perry will be a project worth working on. He is a dangerous man when he’s holding a football, and his size and speed are advantaged by improvisational skills. With the right mentorship and coaching, the former Midshipman will definitely be a player to watch.