Marching in formation Thanks to Mayweather, Army's attack runs just fine

December 05, 1990|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

It was almost a year ago that Mike Mayweather did something that bordered on the sacrilegious. He broke Glenn Davis' Army career rushing record, which had stood for more than four decades.

The Cadets make no secret of what they are going to do to football opponents. They are going to crank up their wishbone offense and run and run, then run again.

That is what Navy will expect Saturday in Philadelphia when the teams meet in their 100th anniversary game, and that surely is what it will get.

Numbers? They're bountiful and conclusive. The Cadets have rushed 673 times for 3,280 yards. They have thrown only 60 passes, completing 27 for a meager 688 yards. Split end Myreon Williams, a reformed quarterback, is the leading receiver with 12 catches.

Which brings us to Mayweather, who finished 10th in this year's Heisman Trophy voting. Mayweather has been the heart of Army's attack since 1987 when he became the first plebe in 36 years to lead the team in rushing.

Mayweather is the only runner in school history to gain over 1,000 yards in a season more than once, and he has done that three times. His yearly team-leading totals have risen from 762 to 1,022 to 1,177 to 1,251.

Oh, yes, and a year ago, as a mere junior, he broke the hallowed school career rushing record of 2,957 yards established by 1946 Heisman Trophy winner and Hall of Famer Davis. He did it, appropriately, in the season finale against Navy.

Building on the record this season, Mayweather slipped past former Navy star Napoleon McCallum to become the leading all-time service academy rusher with 4,212 yards.

After Mayweather raced for 131 yards against Syracuse, Orange coach Dick MacPherson and his players told Army coach Jim Young that Mayweather was the best back they had faced all year.

"He's the best player I've ever been associated with," said linebacker John Robb, a freshly minted Army co-captain by vote of the players last week. Mayweather is the other.

"He's the best player I've been associated with," said Young, who has been coaching for 35 years, 17 of them as head man at Arizona, Purdue and Army.

Mayweather came as a gift to Young from a St. Louis ghetto. The ninth youngest of 10 children, he was raised by his mother Frances, who, ever since he can remember has worked as a cook at the Missouri School for the Blind. His father died when he was 6.

"It was in a car accident, I think," said Mayweather. "My mother never said much about it, probably for our best interests, so we never focused on it.

"Mom had it pretty tough, but for me and my twin sister it wasn't quite so bad. Our older brothers and sisters made sure we didn't make the same mistakes they did, so we learned without making them. It was so easy to go wrong in that environment."

Mayweather earned a scholarship to Country Day School, pulled a B-plus academic average and was all-state in football three times. West Point recruiters noticed.

"It's remarkable what Mike has done," Young said after Mayweather was voted to the Football Writers Association of America All-America team with Colorado running back Eric Bienemy last week.

"He's 5-8, 190, but carries 25 to 30 times a game, makes the tough inside yards, blocks and is there every game. In four years, he has missed maybe one or two games with an injury."

Mayweather met Davis when the legend was flown in from California two weeks before last year's Army-Navy game. They appeared on "Good Morning, America" in anticipation of Mayweather breaking Davis' career rushing record.

"I saw the personality behind the record," Mayweather said. "He has strong character. It shows you what kind of people do these things. I realize now breaking his record was an accomplishment."

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