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Oxford native to take the field in Army-Navy game one last time

Clay Cromwell
Photo courtesy of Navy Athletics

The college football world will be all-eyes when Army and Navy take the field on Saturday for the two teams’ 124th annual meeting.

For Mississippians specifically, many will be watching for Oxford native and Navy defensive tackle Clay Cromwell. Cromwell, a senior set to make his final appearance in “America’s Game,” joined SportsTalk Mississippi to discuss what the matchup means to him.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot and going back and watching Army-Navy games where they show the teams running out and the flyovers. It’s a huge adrenaline rush,” Cromwell said. “It’s awesome and it’s hard not to miss that, but I’m going to embrace it one last time.”

The Midshipmen, keeping the tradition of wearing a specialized uniform for the big game, will be donning all-navy with a submarine displayed on the helmet. Cromwell is taking his look to another, more patriotic level by wearing a patch in honor of Lt. Brendan Looney, a Navy SEAL who lost his life in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

“This year, I chose to wear a Brendan Looney patch, which if you don’t know anything about him, he played football and lacrosse here. Unfortunately, he was killed in Afghanistan in 2010,” Cromwell explained. “That’s the gravity of it. Guys like that played in this game and for me personally, that’s a tremendous honor and a huge deal.

During his three seasons with the Naval Academy, the Oxford High grad has amassed 83 total tackles, seven sacks, and three forced fumbles. Even with the impressive stats, Cromwell plans to hang up the cleats and turn his full attention to serving the country after graduation. He explained that, following in the footsteps of his father, he will pursue a career in the Marine Corps.

“I am going to be a Marine Corps officer,” Cromwell said. “It’s very common for people here to come in wanting to do one thing and they change their minds very frequently just as they learn more about it. But I’ve always been set on that. I’m glad I stuck with it.”

In true American fashion, this year’s Army-Navy game will be played at Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL’s New England Patriots, and officials are expecting a huge crowd. Jonathan Kraft, son of Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, told reporters that ticket demand is “greater than any AFC championship game” and even greater than Taylor Swift’s three-night stint at the stadium earlier this year.

With bowl eligibility for both teams on the line, Army (5-6) and Navy (5-6) will kick off at 2 p.m. CT and be broadcast on CBS. Army won last year’s contest in a triple overtime thriller, 20-17.

Other Mississippians set to take the field:

  • Navy WR John Meagher (Oxford)
  • Navy TE Jake Norris (Madison)
  • Army OLB Chance Keith (Biloxi)

The full interview with Cromwell can be watched below.

 

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