A pint-sized safety valve

Navy: He `never knew he could play football in college'

now, two-way athlete Jamie Doffermyre is co-captain.

August 28, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

If there is one player who personifies what Navy football is supposed to be about this year, it has to be Jamie Doffermyre.

He is light but speedy. He was a virtual unknown who was recruited by the academy to play lacrosse, but wound up becoming the leading tackler and a major inspiration for the football team at safety. He is almost always out-weighed but never out-spirited.

"I'm kind of used to it," said the graduate of Arundel High. "I go 180 to 185 and last year against Notre Dame I gave away 40 pounds to the quarterback and 60 pounds to the fullback. All I try to do is get to the ball as fast as I can."

Even then, there are reminders -- at 6 feet 1, 190 pounds -- that he is in a game of relative behemoths.

In the 1998 loss to West Virginia, Doffermyre was on top of a pile-up when "one of their linemen picked me right up with one hand and threw me off like I was a little toy."

Despite the pitfalls, the team co-captain is a rags-to-riches story whose 127 tackles was 45 more than his closest teammate and earned him All-East honors from the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

"I never even thought about coming here. I had no plan," Doffermyre said. "I was contacted by Army and here and told Army no way. About December of my senior year, I decided to come here. I have no regrets; I'd do it all over again. I've been blessed."

Although he eventually made his impact on the athletic program on the gridiron, Doffermyre's passion for lacrosse -- he's a defensive midfielder -- did not have to end. He joined the team after spring football last May and played against Army and in the first round of the NCAA tournament. He will play a full lacrosse season in the spring.

"I never knew if I could play football in college," he said. "I wasn't really a big recruit. All they had was a film."

The combination earned him a mention in Sports Illustrated in December as a two-sport athlete.

"My friend Alex [defensive end Alex Murray] was joking around that I should be in there after we were fingering through one issue," Doffermyre said. "So, we sent them an e-mail and they got back to us."

An economics major, Doffermyre isn't sure what preference for duty he will make when the time comes to serve his military commitment. He knows he will need "a spectacular senior year" to get an opportunity to play pro football, a chance he calls "such a slim one."

In the meantime, Navy is gearing down its hardest work in preparation for its season opener Sept. 4 against Georgia Tech, which is ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press preseason poll. A scrimmage scheduled for last night was canceled in favor of a regular practice session.

When potential Heisman Trophy winner Joe Hamilton and the Yellow Jackets come buzzing into Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Doffermyre and his mates will be waiting.

"The past couple of weeks have been tough," Doffermyre said. "We've been going hard for quite a while. It's time to let some of our bumps heal. But I think we're going to surprise a lot of people. We expect a lot of ourselves. The seniors want to win, no matter what."

Pub Date: 8/28/99

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