Despite size, Navy's Ogden tackles big

November 08, 1990|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- No linebacker wants to be called "not physically imposing," the description of Navy outside linebacker Byron Ogden in his team's media guide.

But that's OK, says Ogden, as long as you call him effective. And that's just how the 5-foot-11, 211-pound junior from Burke, Va., has been as he has made his way into the Navy starting lineup the past four games.

Playing in half as many starts as some of his more experienced teammates, Ogden has recorded 27 tackles this year -- 24 unassisted. And, along with his reckless play on special teams, he has managed to impress the only people who count -- his coaching staff.

"Ogden has played good football for us," coach George Chaump said. "He's rough, though not big. But he's a solid football player."

Ogden was named to the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division I-A honor roll after he recorded seven tackles in a 24-7 loss to Air Force on Oct. 6 -- not an honor often associated with a player who is "not physically imposing."

"It's kind of funny," Ogden said, with a chuckle. "When it says 'not physically imposing,' that's the butt of a joke right away. I know I'm not gifted with great size, but as long as I can go perform, size is not a big issue."

Ogden performed well in high school, earning all-district honors while playing at Lake Braddock High School, a football-competitive school. Despite his accomplishments, however, few Division I recruiters knocked on his door.

"Not many Division I schools were hot after me because I wasn't 'physically imposing,' " said Ogden, a mechanical engineering major. "Sometimes the big schools, all they look at is the physical profile. If a player doesn't fall into certain criteria, sometimes they think he can't play."

With offers from several Ivy League schools and some Division II programs, Ogden eventually settled on playing a major Division I schedule at the Naval Academy.

"My father is retired from the Navy and was a naval aviator, so I learned of all of the prestige that the Navy has to offer," said Ogden, who was a member of the National Honor Society in high school. "I looked closely at the choices, and the academy came )) out on top. My father never pressured me to come here. But he's proud -- he feels I'm the type of person that should be here."

Ogden wanted to play football and baseball at Navy -- he was also a point guard on his high school basketball team -- but was talked out of being a two-sport athlete by then-Navy coach Elliot Uzelac.

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