It’s a reunion for Sykes and Niumatalolo after Skyles coached Navy’s outside linebackers in 2011 and secondary in ’10 under Niumatalolo.
The 32-year-old Sykes, considered a rising recruiting in the DMV area and a bright young coach, spent the past four years at Charlotte, joining the program for its foundation. The 49ers played their inaugural season in 2013, and Sykes helped the program transition from the FCS to the FBS this season as a member of Conference USA.
Before working at Navy, Sykes spent two seasons at his alma mater, Wake Forest, working as an offensive graduate assistant in 2008 and a defensive graduate assistant in ’09. He was co-defensive coordinator at Mallard Creek High in Charlotte, N.C. in ’07.
Sykes served as defensive coordinator for the semi-pro Bay Atlantic Sharks in 2006 after getting his start in coaching as an assistant at his high school alma mater, the Gilman School, in Baltimore. He played linebacker at Wake Forest for three seasons.
At Navy, Sykes takes over the defensive line from Dale Pehrson, who oversaw the unit for 17 years and became the Midshipmen’s interim defensive coordinator this fall.
Navy went 11–2 in 2015, its best season under Niumatalolo and most wins in a season in program history. The Midshipmen downed Pittsburgh 44–28 in the Military Bowl to cap the season. Niumatalolo has a 68–37 record in eight seasons at Navy and has led the Midshipmen to a bowl game in all but one of those seasons.