Choosing QB won't be a snap for Navy

August 15, 1991|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

ANNAPOLIS -- Those shoes over there must have been Alton Grizzard's. An awful lot of people are trying to fill them.

After four years as Navy's quarterback, Grizzard graduated as the Middies' all-time leader in total offense with 5,666 yards. Who's next?

It could be Brian Ellis. It could be Jason Van Matre. Or it could be any one of 13 candidates, seven of them plebes.

"Everybody wants to be the triggerman," coach George Chaump said as Navy began two-a-day practices today in preparation for its Sept. 7 opener against Ball State. "Once word gets out you're going to throw, that attracts wide receivers and quarterbacks."

Neither Ellis nor Van Matre nor any of the other quarterbacks has taken a snap in a varsity game.

Ellis is a junior from Morrow, Ga., who apparently is fully recovered from tendinitis in his throwing elbow that hampered him all last year. Van Matre is a sophomore from Pensacola, Fla., who lettered last season as a tailback.

"Ellis is your typical quarterback -- tall, heady, classic release," Chaump said. "He fills the bill. Van Matre is talented -- not real fast but quick, not big but powerful. He has the intangibles and gets the job done.

"I'd give Ellis the edge in passing and Van Matre the edge in running. It's quite a blend. Our first challenge is to find a quarterback and settle on him."

As he enters his second year at Navy and 10th as a head coach, Chaump has endured only two losing seasons -- his first at Indiana (Pa.) University and last year's 5-6 here. Still, Navy won its most games since 1982.

"The difference between this year and last is like night and day," Chaump said. "We're so far ahead in morale, spirit and pride. We'll be much stronger. I'll be very disappointed if we're not competitive."

Navy is as inexperienced at tailback as it is at quarterback. First on the depth chart is Duke Ingraham, a 220-pound junior from Rhode Island who was a linebacker all last fall.

"We were looking for a rugged, hard-nosed runner in the spring," Chaump said, noting Ingraham was a running back in high school and as a plebe here. "We learned he's not only tough, but has ability as well. He'll drag people and lower his shoulder and hit them. Based on what he did in the spring, he'll be hard to beat out."

Although there are four returning starters on offense, three most likely will be at new positions. Co-captain B.J. Mason is moving from split end to flanker, David Lillefloren from guard to center and Michael Davis from tackle to right guard. Dan Dunaway alone remains at his old spot, left guard.

*

The academy's new superintendent, Tom Lynch, captained and was a linebacker on the 1963 Navy team that helped Roger Staubach win the Heisman Trophy that year . . . This is the Middies' 111th football season; they'll play their 1,000th game Oct. 12 here against Air Force . . . Navy's Sept. 7 opener against Ball State is at 7 p.m., its second night game ever at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. In 1985 the Middies entertained North Carolina at night, and lost, 21-19.

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