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The roller coaster ride for Navy grad and Bucs free agent cornerback Cameron Kinley appears to be over.

After signing with the Buccaneers following his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy, Kinley had the rug pulled from underneath him and was told by the Pentagon he would not be allowed the opportunity to defer his required naval commission.

On Tuesday reports suggested the Pentagon has reversed their initial decision.

Kinley participated in the Bucs rookie mini-camp earlier this year after signing as an unrestricted free agent and impressed head coach Bruce Arians in the few days he was on the field.

“Well, obviously he’s very, very important to the Navy,” Arians said. “That’s kind of a catch-22. I know he wants to attempt to be a professional football player, but he obviously means a ton to the Navy. I’ll leave that up to them. We’d love to have him because I thought he showed promise and signs when he was here.

“If he can get free by training camp we’d love to have him back. He’ll miss a lot, but he’s a very bright young man.

After initially being denied, Kinley found an ally in U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who wrote a letter on his behalf.

“Mr. Kinley is not seeking to terminate his commitment to the Navy,” Rubio wrote in a letter obtained by TheHill.com. “Far from it. He wishes to promote service to our great nation from one of the country’s largest stages. I implore you to right this wrong.”

Other U.S. Armed Forces football players have been granted deferral of service status in the past. In 2019, President Donald Trump allowed academy graduates the ability to play pro sports. Navy’s Malcolm Perry was allowed to join the Miami Dolphins after the 2020 draft. Apparently that policy has changed under the Biden administration.

Kinley played four years at Navy and totaled 88 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, 12 passes defended and one forced fumble in 27 games. Even despite losing his starting role during the 2020 season, Kinley remained a team captain. And to make his resume even more impressive, Kinley was also the Academy’s senior class president.

 

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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Jcorp87
2 months ago

That’s great news. I hope this young man can make our team and add some more depth to the secondary.

BucNnole
2 months ago

Bout damn time. Navy made the right decision. I’m glad he has the opportunity to now pursue both of his dreams. Go Navy and Go Bucs.

Eddie
Reply to  BucNnole
2 months ago

Right on. Now it is up to him to make the team. All he ask is to have a chance to do so

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Eddie
2 months ago

It’s unfortunate for Kinley that he can never get the missed time with the team back. I don’t remember exactly when his initial denial was handed down, but from that moment, I’m pretty sure he missed the rest of minicamp. For a young player like him, every opportunity to get in front of coaches and show out on the field is so crucial. It’s really disappointing that this ever became a problem for him to begin with, IMO.

Naplesfan
Reply to  BucNnole
2 months ago

Actually, it wasn’t the Navy that made the decision. SecDef overruled SecNav on this one.

surferdudes
2 months ago

Yeah, now who’s going to go after all those alien spacecrafts the Navy has been encountering?

aredsoxfan1
Reply to  surferdudes
2 months ago

Bezos, Branson and Musk.

tpeluso
2 months ago

As expected once his situation went public. Would’ve been really bad pub for the Navy to dig its heels in.

Eddie
Reply to  tpeluso
2 months ago

Would have been much better if the heels were parked. Wasted effort

Eddie
Reply to  tpeluso
2 months ago

Navy even denied his chance for appeal. From another Bucs Fan site “Kinley, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was previously denied his request to defer his service by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker. He was also denied a chance to appeal and was not given a reason why.”

bucballer
2 months ago

Wish the kid well. Can always use another good character guy on the team.

PissedOffBuc1988
2 months ago

As it should be. Harker had no business denying him, then telling kinley he couldn’t appeal. That was busch league and clearly nothing more than a “pump the chest” moment as the ACTING secretary who has shown why he isn’t the lead guy.

toofamiliar17
2 months ago

It is interest, because CB is one of the few spots on the team where a UDFA CB could conceivably make the roster out of camp. It’s still unlikely, obviously, but beyond our clear cut top 4, there’s what looks like a pretty open battle for that 5th spot. He’ll need to beat out some guys who all pretty clearly have a leg up on him as of right now – 6th round draft pick Chris Wilcox, recently signed S/T standout Antonio Hamilton, and the incumbent Herb Miller, who the team has reportedly liked in the past. And there are… Read more »

scubog
2 months ago

The precedent to allow the minuscule number of service academy graduates who were good enough to at least be afforded the chance be a professional athlete and merely delay their commitment, was set long ago. Why this Class President was initially denied this rare opportunity was baffling to me. Glad the young man will be able to try, even though making the Practice Squad will be a tough task. We all should be pulling for him.

Horse
2 months ago

Graduating from one of the academy”s automatically puts them on the fast track for promotions. He just got off that track by not taking his commission. For his sake I hope he makes the team; and if he doesn’t I hope Bucs release him out right, and let him try to fix his future Navel career. Glad the Navy did it, but handled the situation poorly, and so did Kinsley as he should have never sent that letter out to the public.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  Horse
2 months ago

That’s an interesting take. How is kinley at fault? Not only did the navy let him go through the entire draft process, including signing as a udrfa and go through rookie camp, but then the ACTING secretary of defense denied his opportunity to play, with no reason, and said he couldn’t appeal. Kinley is not trying to get out of his commitment and screw the Navy. He just wants the opportunity to go after another dream of his. And I’m pretty sure kinley will be just fine in life. His resume is already impressive. “Fix his Naval career”… interesting.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
2 months ago

Actually, no, service academy grads are not on a fast track to promotion. All officers from O-1 through O-3 get automatically promoted unless they screw up. From O-4 on up it’s about their fitness reports.
Kinley won’t lose anything by playing NFL football first. Indeed, because of the natural maturation process of young people, if he has a pretty good NFL career he will be head and shoulders above his peers in pay grade.

Horse
Reply to  Naplesfan
2 months ago

Really? Maybe it’s changed since I was in the military since it has been over 53 years. You have a military class ring you’re a step ahead, whether you want to accept it or not. I was all three of those ranks and you are incorrect it was an automatic. In my time there was a speed up of O-1,O-2 promotions because of the demand, as they were the first targets in a Platoon. If your tour was in Vietnam and you were a Captain, it was very competitive to get a Company Commander spot if you wanted to get… Read more »

ScottC543
Reply to  Naplesfan
2 months ago

This. If he is as good a sailor as he was a student and leader on the football field he’ll be a rock star at every command he’s ordered to.

Horse
Reply to  ScottC543
2 months ago

He has already shown a flaw by letting that letter go public. He’s already got one strike against him. You won’t know how he’s done until he has an OER reflecting his leadership under combat. OER’s stands for Officer Efficiency Report; this defines an Officer character and leadership under stress during combat.

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