Photo: Myer Krah celebrates with fellow Midshipmen at last year's Army-Navy Game. Below, Krah makes at tackle against Ohio State.
Antonio King’s reaction to Navy’s spring football experiment moving Myer Krah from the secondary to an outside linebacker role known as “striker” was full support.
“That’s basically the position he played for us,” said King, the head coach at Durham (N.C.) Hillside, where Krah and James Madison quarterback Vad Lee led the Hornets to a state title. “He was a hybrid linebacker – a safety down in the box. He’s an outstanding kid that works hard and has a feel for the game. He’s going to compete against anybody. I like the move he made.”
The experiment began out of necessity late in the 2014 season, but he is now listed No. 2 on the depth chart for the 2015 season following spring drills. Chris Johnson, last year’s starter has graduated, but his backup, William Tuider, is listed No. 1 on the depth chart despite missing spring drills while he rehabbed from shoulder surgery.
“I was excited about it,” Krah, a senior in the fall, said of the position move to Navy.com. “I played (linebacker) in high school, so it brought back some old memories. It wasn’t that hard of a move. I was smaller than other outside linebackers, but I had a lot of help (from teammates). I had to stay lower and tried to use my speed.”
At the time of the move, Krah only weighed 198 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame. But he’s up to 205 this year as he ran through spring drills working at “striker” in Navy’s 3-4 scheme. He’s considered one the strongest players pound-for-pound feels he can add another five to 10 pounds next season without losing a step.
“I think it’s perfect for guys my size or safeties,” he said. “I’ve been playing defensive back for so long I can sees the passes and run out in coverage. As long as I put on weight and can read the pass blocks. It’s a real hybrid position. I have to be able to move and hit in there.”
In high school, Krah and Lee, who began his career at Georgia Tech before he transferred to James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va., led Hillside to the 2010 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state crown for large schools.
“Myer and Vad were outstanding leaders for us,” King said. “They got most of the media attention and did the interviews, but they worked hard. They led more by example than talking. The other kids wanted to follow them and our team really came together. They also were great students.”
Krah’s family didn’t have a military background when Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green began recruiting him, but King wasn’t surprised Krah showed interest and accepted the demanding challenges of academics and athletics attending a military academy. He is an example of the growing talent pool of recruits taking interest in academy athletics at Navy, Army and Air Force.
“Coach Green did a great job recruiting Myer,” King said. “He has great parents and they looked into Navy real hard. They realized a Navy scholarship is a great opportunity. They saw it as a no-brainer.
"I thought he was a great fit for Navy. He can accept a challenge and adapt. Once he got through the six-week plebe (boot) camp, I knew he would be fine.”
Krah’s first three seasons he primarily was limited to special teams until opportunity knocked late in his junior season in 2014. The Midshipmen were hit by injuries at outside linebacker when they traveled to South Alabama with only a 5-5 record while still in need of one more win for bowl eligibility.
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo and Green decided that instead of having a talent such as Krah in a backup role at cornerback, they could use his versatility and move him to outside linebacker for the South Alabama game.
“He was our next best DB, he’s a physical guy and he was our most valuable player on specials teams,” Green said. “He’s a good tackler and we thought he would be good in space against a spread team. He picked it up in a week and played well.”
Krah turned in pivotal plays with 10 tackles and an interception to lift Navy to a 42-40 win. That victory clinched a bid to the San Diego Country Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl with a bowl-eligible 6-5 record.
The Midshipmen went on to beat Army in the regular-season finale with Krah still playing outside linebacker, although he returned to cornerback in the bowl game win over San Diego State. The Midshipmen, who were once 4-5, finished the year with a four-game winning streak and 8-5 overall record.
South Alabama’s spread offense also made Navy’s staff feel comfortable with Krah’s smaller size replacing Johnson and Tuider, who both carried more weight.
In addition to Krah’s 10 tackles, with five unassisted, his interception returned 31 yards was turning point in the South Alabama victory. The theft midway through the first quarter helped Navy dig out of 10-0 hole.
The Navy offensive series before the interception, the Midshipmen had been stopped on a fourth-and-1 attempt at its own 45 to give South Alabama the ball in Navy territory. But Krah’s pick included his 31-yard return to South Alabama’s 29 and 15 more yards for a late hit penalty. The Midshipmen suddenly had a first down at the South Alabama 14-yard line. Navy scored its first touchdown two plays later on Noah Copeland’s 13-yard run to trim the deficit to 10-7.
“We're getting Myer ready to play every down, not just situationally,” Green said of 2015. “That's our goal. You can never have enough good outside linebackers. We like to rotate those guys and keep them fresh.”
Navy opens the season against Colgate, a Football Championship Subdivision team, on Sept. 5 at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy faces a unique schedule this year. In addition to Air Force on Oct. 3 at home and Army on Dec. 12 in Philadelphia, the Midshipmen begins play in the American Athletic Conference this year and could play in the conference title contest scheduled for Dec. 5. Navy's bowl agreement this year is with the Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Krah says he has adapted to his new position for the 2015 season.
“The most difficult part has been the reaction,” Krah said. “Playing DB, you're always thinking pass first. As a linebacker, you have to keep your eyes inside, watch the tackles and guards and think run first," he said. "My reflex is to go backward instead of forward. But I'm watching more film and get more of a feel for the position so I'm starting to get better reactions."
-30-Tom Shanahan has featured Army, Navy and Air Force athletes for nearly 30 years in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Rivals.com and the Raleigh News and Observer. He attended his first Army-Navy Game after John Feinstein wrote in his book on the rivalry, “A Civil War,” everyone should attend the Army-Navy Game at least once.