There once was a time when athletes who were enrolled in any of the United States Service Academies didn’t have the option to pursue their dream of playing professional sports until after their enlistments were completed. But the current policy in Washington D.C. allows some graduates of the academies to defer their commission while they chase a pro sports career.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, undrafted free agent cornerback Cameron Kinley – for now – won’t have that opportunity as the U.S. Navy has denied Kinley’s petition to put off his service as he attempted to make it in the NFL.
A three-sport athlete out of Lausanne Collegiate High School in Memphis, Tennessee, Kinley had dreams of attending Vanderbilt University. His eyes set on an SEC school that boasts nationally-renowned academics and resides just three hours away from home. But he ultimately never received an offer from the Commodores. Instead, Kinley was forced to make a choice between the offers that were extended to him. A comprehensive list that included the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
Kinley had never considered joining the armed forces prior to his recruitment. But after discussions with some of his teachers and faculty as a senior, and some nudging from his grandfather who was once a chief in the Navy, Kinley ultimately decided to continue his football career at the Naval Academy.
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.
PewterReport.com contact Kinley’s agent who sent us this press release in response to the decision.
United States Naval Academy 2021 Class President and Navy Football team captain Cameron Kinley’s request to delay his commission to play in the NFL has been denied. Kinley is being required to commission into the U.S. Navy as an Ensign unlike his counterparts at other service academies who also signed NFL contracts this year in accordance with Directive-type Memorandum 19-011.
Kinley signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was approved by the U.S.
Navy to participate in rookie minicamp where he has been a standout. Due to unexplained Reasons, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker has denied Kinley’s request to delay his commission. The U.S. Navy is also denying Kinley the opportunity to appeal this decision. Denying Cameron a fair process will also deny him the dream of playing in the NFL.
“As a Naval Academy graduate, football player, and decorated combat veteran I understand Cameron’s commitment. I also understand there are ways he can fulfill his commitment while representing the Navy and playing professional sports. I played with three-time Superbowl Champion Joe Cardona, who still serves our country as a Navy reservist. If there is a directive and precedent allowing other service academy athletes to pursue this opportunity, what makes Cameron different? It is important to note that this could have a long-term impact on his mental health going forward. He wants to fulfill both of his childhood dreams, playing in the NFL and honorably serving his country.” said Divine Sports and Entertainment Co-Founder, Ryan Williams-Jenkins.
The other service academy graduates who have been allowed to forego their commission to play in the NFL are John Rhattigan (WestPoint) who signed with the Seahawks, Nolan Laufenberg (Air Force) who signed with the Broncos and George Silvanic (Air Force) who signed with the Rams.
Following his speech as class president, Kinley presented a gift to the Vice President of the United States, Vice President Kamala Harris who delivered the keynote address during the USNA’s graduation ceremony on May 28 in Annapolis, MD.
Kindly himself took to Twitter on Monday afternoon after the decision by the Navy was made available.
The Bucs being a three-day mandatory mini-camp on Tuesday but it looks like they will have it with one less player in attendance.
– Taylor Jenkins contributed to this report