Slim in slot, McGrew hopes to quicken pace Mids counting on senior to display versatility

Navy notebook

September 05, 1997|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Senior slotback Pat McGrew is majoring in economics, but he sounds more like an architect in describing how the Navy football team has developed under head coach Charlie Weatherbie, and the team's high expectations for this season, starting today against San Diego State.

"The first year," said McGrew, "you lay the foundation. The second year, you start putting walls on the building. This year, you put a roof on the whole thing."

You could almost draw a parallel between the ascension of the Mids and McGrew's career as a running back.

In his three years in Annapolis, the Alabama native has seen the Mids climb from 3-8 in 1994 to 9-3 and a bowl victory last season.

McGrew, who with safety Gervy Alota is the only three-letter man on the team, has been a bigger contributor each season.

After averaging only 2.4 rushing yards as a freshman, he showed flashes of his potential last season when he rushed for 205 yards, averaging 5.2 yards, and caught eight passes for 94 yards.

But Weatherbie and offensive coordinator Ken Niumatalolo expect McGrew, a four-sport star at little Choctaw High in Silas, Ala., to display more of his versatility this season. To do so, they told him to trim his 228-pound frame.

"I'm down to 215 now," said McGrew before participating in a final scrimmage. "I feel, quicker, more explosive, and with all the different things a slotback is asked to do in our offense, it should also help my stamina."

McGrew said he is using fullback Omar Nelson as a positive example. As a senior, a streamlined Nelson rushed for for 861 yards and nine touchdowns.

"I hung around Omar a lot," McGrew said. "I could see for myself what losing weight meant to him as a runner and receiver."

Said Niumatalolo, "Pat really worked on his conditioning this summer. The numbers may not show it, but last year he was our most versatile slotback if you combine running, receiving and blocking. He can only get better."

Aztecs feared

Weatherbie rates San Diego State the "second-toughest opponent" this season after Notre Dame.

"I think they're close to matching match Notre Dame size-wise and skill-wise," he said. "Their offensive line averages almost 300 pounds. It might be bigger than the San Diego Chargers."

On camera

Home Team Sports will televise Navy's games with San Diego State today and Kent State on Nov. 22. The Mids will be on TV in seven of their 11 games, missing only their contests with Rutgers, Southern Methodist, Virginia Military Institute and Colgate.

The early start (11: 30 a.m., PDT) of today's game is the result of San Diego State's being low in the pecking order at the busiest natural-turf, multipurpose stadium in the country.

The game originally was scheduled for tomorrow at Qualcomm Stadium, but potential national TV commitments for the San Diego Padres prevented setting a definite kickoff time.

Ticket search

Alota and wide receiver LeBron Butts, who were teammates at Morse High in San Diego, have been working overtime trying to hustle extra tickets to accommodate family and friends.

Pub Date: 9/05/97

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