Cameron Kinley wanted an opportunity to pursue his NFL dreams and bring attention to the Navy. Now he has the chance to do both.
On Tuesday, United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin released a statement indicating that Kinley, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a standout cornerback on the Midshipmen football team, would be allowed to delay his mandatory military commission "for the duration of his football career." That was a reversal of a previous decision by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker that Kinley could not delay his commission.
This is good news for both Kinley and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who signed the young corner as an undrafted free agent in May. Harker's decision was handed down after Kinley participated in Tampa Bay's rookie mini-camp and made several impressive plays. The Buccaneers never made an official roster move following Harker's decision and thus he remains on the 90-man camp roster. The Bucs will begin training camp practices on July 25.
"Today we were informed by the office of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III that Cameron Kinley has been granted permission to delay his commission to the United States Navy in order to pursue an opportunity to play in the National Football League," said Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht. "We are thrilled for Cameron and very much appreciate the Pentagon's willingness to work with him so that he may compete at training camp for a chance to earn a spot on our roster."
Kinley started the past two seasons at Navy, recording 64 tackles, one interception and 10 passes defensed. He could become the first player from any of the Federal Service Academies to play for the Buccaneers. There were three former Navy players active in the NFL last year: Patriots long-snapper Joe Cardona, Chargers safety Alohi Gilman (he finished his collegiate career at Notre Dame) and Miami wide receiver Malcolm Perry.
Kinley is one of 10 cornerbacks on the Buccaneers' current camp roster. He will likely be competing for one of five or six spots at that position on the regular-season 53-man roster. He could also earn a spot on the Buccaneers' practice squad.