OwlSports Update Staff Reporter
The Owls didn’t lose one, not even two, but three linebackers to the NFL. It’s no wonder some redshirt freshmen must be ready to play when the Navy season opener roles around in October.
Two names that top the list are Thomas Joe-Kamara and Yvandy Rigby. Both are learning to take a lead role after sitting most of last season, but also learning from those who came before them.
“Sam told me to go out there and show that you're a dog, you can’t be soft,” Joe-Kamara said when asked about Sam Franklin, the former Owl and now current member of the Carolina Panthers.
Joe-Kamara understands the importance of responding to a significant role at an early age. He’s just one season removed from watching on the bench. Now, he’s working at finding a starting spot.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I believe I’m most definitely ready. In high school, I had to play varsity at an early age, basically as a freshman and sophomore. I had to step up a lot. I see this as a good opportunity to have for the next 3 or 4 years, getting the most experience I can and doing what I can to help the team.
Joe-Kamara was not the only one receiving guidance from a newly-minted NFL player. Rigby also idolized his own mentor, Shaun Bradley, who was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2020 draft. But when Bradley was in Temple Cherry and White, he often spoke highly of his soon-to-be replacement.
“I’m extremely humble and appreciative of Shaun Bradley saying such words because he was obviously a stunning linebacker for this program,” said Rigby. “His name will live on in the program forever, and Shaun Bradley has done so much for me in terms of being another older brother.”
Looking up to these players gives Joe-Kamara and Rigby a chance to take advice and run with it, not only this season but for years to come.
“I’m going to take it one step at a time. I’m going to do what’s best for the team, no matter what position I’m playing this season or next season,” Rigby said.
Joe-Kamara and Rigby will get their first crack at using this advice from their mentors when they take the field on October 10th against Navy.