ANNAPOLIS -- When Duke Ingraham attended Navy homecoming games and reunions as a boy, his father told him about Navy's old football heroes.
Duncan Ingraham, a defensive back and two-year letterman in the mid-1960s, played with some of them. Roger Staubach, for one. Tom Lynch, for another.
"Great leader," Duncan Ingraham said in telling his son about Lynch. "Tough. Hard-nosed. Center, linebacker and team captain."
There was never any doubt in Duke Ingraham's mind about choice of college. Michigan State, Boston College and Army recruited him, but he had made his decision long before, during his visits here.
His credentials were in order. Duke was all-state in Rhode Island for two years as a tailback at Portsmouth High and scored 32 touchdowns as a senior and earned honorable mention All-America.
"Of course, all-state in Rhode Island is like all-conference in most states," Ingraham said wryly. "It may be small, but it's God's country."
Today, Ingraham, 6 feet 1, 226 pounds, is Navy's junior tailback. By an interesting coincidence, Lynch, the hard-nosed linebacker Duncan Ingraham told his son about, is now Admiral Lynch, the superintendent of the Naval Academy.
Lynch and his old teammates remain close. They turned out in force for the 20th and 25th reunions, and in June, when Lynch was installed as superintendent, they came from all over, from Dallas (Staubach), Phoenix, California, Denver and Rhode Island Duncan, my man") just for the ceremony.
"I know where the whole team is," Lynch said. "Now, with me being here, we may have a reunion every year."
Lynch has a "special affinity" for Duke's father. Duncan Ingraham, who owns a Century 21 insurance and real estate operation in Newport, R.I., and Lynch both came from Ohio, as did a host of their teammates who were recruited by Rick Forzano, then a Navy assistant.
After he graduated, Lynch, two classes ahead of Ingraham, was chief engineer on the Harlan R. Dickson, a ship from World War II, when he was joined by a young ensign. Duncan Ingraham became the ship's damage control assistant and worked under Lynch for two years.
Duke Ingraham came out of high school as a decorated running back, was transferred to the defensive secondary at Navy's prep school, then back to running back as a plebe and last year to linebacker, where he started four games.
This is Ingraham's third year here, but Red Romo, who has been Navy's trainer for 35 years, still occasionally confuses Duke with his father. "Red calls me Duncan sometimes," Duke said, smiling.
Coach George Chaump decreed last spring that Ingraham was once more a tailback. When Duke ran 66 yards for a score on the first play of the first scrimmage, Chaump sensed he had made a wise decision.
"I love it," said Ingraham, who has gained 117 yards in Navy's first two games.
He and Brad Stramanak, the 238-pound starting fullback, call themselves "the quarter ton of fun." They got on the scale together one day in full pads and saw the needle stop at 502.
"Quarter ton of fun," Ingraham mused. "But we'd have more fun if we were winning. And we will."
The 0-2 Middies will entertain William & Mary Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Navy has losses to Ball State and Virginia, and William & Mary has a win over Boston U. and a loss to Delaware.
Eighteen members of Navy's 1941 team will observe their 50th reunion this weekend. They will present the game ball from their 14-6 victory over Army that year to athletic director Jack Lengyel at halftime of the William & Mary game.
The players returning include Bill Busik, who still holds the academy punting records for one season (43.8 yards) and career (40.6) and is now executive director of the Naval Academy
Alumni Association. Among the others are Johnny Harrell, Vito Vitucci, Fred Schnurr, Chet Lee, Phil Hurt, Wes Gebert and Robert Woods. Woods played for Navy that year and then went to Army and played against the Middies in 1942.