By BILL WAGNER
CAPITAL GAZETTE |MAY 25, 2020 | 3:42 PM
As expected, former football standout Malcolm Perry was not commissioned as part of the Naval Academy commencement ceremonies held over the past couple weeks.
Perry, who was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, attended his assigned swearing-in event on May 20 but was not commissioned as a Marine Corps officer.
The Naval Academy conducted five private commissioning ceremonies over the span of 10 days with the senior class being divided into groups of 200. Sitting in socially distanced chairs set up in Tecumseh Court, the Class of 2020 graduates officially became Navy ensigns or Marine Corps second lieutenants.
Perry, the record-setting starting quarterback on the Navy football team, graduated with his class and received a degree in quantitative economics.
However, the Tennessee native did not take the oath of office or sign the required paperwork to become a Marine Corps officer, according to Naval Academy public affairs officer Commander Alana Garas.
Perry is hoping to become the first service academy athlete to benefit from a new Department of Defense policy that allows them to pursue professional sports immediately after graduation.Paid Post LEARN MORE
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper formally issued the new guidelines in November, signing an order that allows service academy graduates to apply for a waiver delaying their military commitment in order to play pro sports.
Esper’s order requires athletes under contract with a professional franchise to gain approval from the defense secretary. Individuals approved for the policy would not be commissioned as officers until their playing careers concluded.
Athletes allowed to pursue pro sports must eventually fulfill their five-year military obligation or repay the government the cost of their college education.
Perry, who received Marine Corps Ground as a service selection, has applied for the waiver to delay his military service while pursuing a career in the NFL. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound speedster became eligible for the new policy after being drafted by the Dolphins.
“[Perry] was not commissioned because, per the pro sports policy, if he were a commissioned officer he could not play in the NFL,” Commander Garas said. “We are awaiting the Secretary of Defense’s decision on Malcolm’s pro sports request.”
Garas said Perry will maintain his active duty status as a midshipman for the time being. If the waiver request is approved by the Secretary of Defense, Perry would shift to Marine Corps Individual Ready Reserves as a corporal (E-4), per the new pro sports policy.
Responding to a text message from The Capital, Perry confirmed he has not received any word from the Department of Defense regarding his waiver request. He remains confident, based off the Department of Defense order that was requested by President Donald Trump, he will eventually be approved.
“I can’t speak with certainty about anything. I think the waiver process takes a longer time and graduation occurred before it was passed,” Perry wrote in a text message.
Perry, who has been back home in Clarksville, Tennessee since the Naval Academy went on spring break, said he still has not signed a contract with the Dolphins. Negotiations are likely on hold until the Department of Defense gives Perry official approval to pursue professional football.
Miami lists Perry as a running back on its roster and he has tentatively been assigned jersey number 10, which is what he wore at Navy. Most NFL scouts envision Perry as a multi-faceted weapon able to line up in the backfield in third down situations, play slot receiver and serve as a returner on special teams.
Perry is attempting to become the third Naval Academy graduate since 2015 to play in the NFL, following in the footsteps of Joe Cardona and Keenan Reynolds.
Cardona, who was picked in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, has been the starting long snapper for the New England Patriots for the past five seasons.
Reynolds, selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, appeared in one regular season game as a slot receiver for the Seattle Seahawks.
Perry excelled as both a slotback and quarterback in Navy’s patented triple-option offense while amassing 4,359 rushing yards, second all-time behind Reynolds. He finished with 40 rushing touchdowns, which ranks fourth in program history.
As a senior, Perry set a Football Bowl Subdivision record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 2,017 and scored 21 touchdowns. He ran for 100 yards or more in 11 of 13 games, setting another single-season school record.
Perry also showed the ability to return kickoffs and punts while piling up 5,320 all-purpose yards, which ranks second in program history behind legendary tailback Napoleon McCallum (7,172, 1981-85), who played in the NFL with the Los Angeles Raiders.Bill WagnerCONTACT
Bill Wagner has worked for Capital Gazette Newspapers for 30 years. He served as beat writer for Navy athletics and general assignment sports reporter. He is also the sailing editor.