ANNAPOLIS -- Navy fullback Kwame Moultrie's season has been one of stops and starts, and that's been a source of frustration for him and for coach George Chaump.
Moultrie, a sophomore from Orangeburg, S.C., started seven games as a freshman last season, and although his numbers (147 yards on 51 carries) weren't earth-shattering, they were at least promising, as he was the leading Middies fullback.
"When I first got here, I didn't think I would get much playing time," said the soft-spoken Moultrie. "I thought it would be a couple of years before I saw the field.
"Last year, a couple of things went my way. When I got a chance, I established myself."
This year, things again started going Moultrie's way. He bulked up to 220 pounds, spread across his 5-foot-11 frame, and had a 70-yard touchdown run in a spring scrimmage.
Things were looking great until Moultrie contracted a case of chickenpox during his summer school session. The disease left him unable to lift weights, run or train, thus setting his conditioning behind.
Then, Moultrie had to go out on a mandatory Naval cruise, placing him even further behind in the quest to train.
"I was really weak," said Moultrie. "I lost a lot of weight and I'm still at 215. I didn't get the cardiovascular training that I should have. I probably lost some ground, but I thought I could gain it back."
A series of subsequent nagging injuries plagued Moultrie early this season, limiting him to 33 yards on 15 carries in five games, and he was forced to share the fullback slot with senior Dominic Flis.
But in Navy's last game, a 17-13 victory over Akron two Saturdays ago, Moultrie ran for 103 yards on 19 carries, becoming the first Middies fullback to run for more than 100 yards since 1987, when Chuck Smith logged 143 against Virginia Tech.
"That surprised me," said Moultrie. "In the past, we've been a rushing team. When you rush the ball, the backs get 100 yards."
But, in keeping with his hard-luck season, Moultrie sprained his right ankle in the Akron game and hasn't practiced with the team since.
While Moultrie is confident he'll be able to play in Saturday's homecoming game with James Madison (1:30 p.m.), Chaump is wondering when he'll be able to overcome his nicks and bruises.
"If Kwame Moultrie stays healthy, he could be outstanding," said Chaump. "We just don't get Kwame at practice a lot. He's had an injury seemingly after every game. If he could stay healthy for any length of time, he could be an outstanding fullback and a fine collegiate runner."
That thought certainly has crossed Moultrie's mind.