Hart sees Rutgers as a case for the Navy defense

September 26, 1992|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- It was early in the second half. Navy trailed Boston College, 28-0, and appeared on the verge of another embarrassing blowout. But Navy defensive back Chris Hart noticed a change in the defense, a change he says is an indication the group is on the road to respectability.

"Things just started to come together," Hart said. "After halftime, we realized we were just as good as those guys."

With the exception of Boston College's 67-yard touchdown drive at the start of the second half, the Midshipmen were able to shut down the Eagles' offense. Included in that sec

ond-half effort was an impressive goal-line stand, which is part of the reason Navy defensive players have a good feeling for today's game against Rutgers (1:30 p.m.) in Annapolis.

"Our defense really came through in the second half," Navy coach George Chaump said. "We had a goal-line stand and a blocked punt. We really played hard."

Playing hard is nothing unusual for Hart, a sophomore defensive back who had two interceptions and eight tackles last week in a typically solid performance. One year after quietly starting seven games as a plebe, Hart appears ready to take a leadership role.

"I don't think it's hard for me being a leader just because I'm a [sophomore]," Hart said. "It's not that I'm putting myself in the situation of being a leader. People just have a tendency to follow me because of my work habits."

He credits his work habits to his height. At 5 feet 8, Hart found that

players his size are not taken seriously.

"I grew up with an inferiority complex because I'm short, and it just made me work a lot harder," Hart said. "No matter what I did, people always questioned me because of my height."

There was no questioning his success at Valdosta (Ga.) High School where he was selected all-state in his senior year while helping his team to the state championship. (He had two interceptions in the title game.)

Hart was good enough to make the roster for the Georgia/Florida High School game after that season, but questions about his height lingered. When practice for the game began, Hart was on the third-team.

"By game time, I was starting," Hart said, proudly. "There was so much good competition there, and it just showed me that I had what it took to play."

Florida State and Georgia Tech apparently also felt he had what it took, but his height scared them


"They both recruited me, and they both told me I was too short to play certain positions," Hart said. "So I was left to choose between Vanderbilt and Navy."

He chose Navy and, for the first time in a long time, Hart is associated with losing football. It hasn't been an easy adjustment.

"It was hard," Hart said of the 1-10 season last year. "I want to do what I can to turn this around. My goal is to help bring this program back to where it should be. Later, I'll have a good feeling knowing I was a part of it."

Hart is hopeful that the turnaround will come soon. He sensed a change in the second half last week, but the defense will face a difficult test today against Bryan Fortay, the talented quarterback for Rutgers (2-1).

"With two games under our belt, we're only going to get better, and the second half last week really helped," Hart said.

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