Teamwork may get Mid into Army game

Frey builds improved shoe so Todd can practice, maybe play, despite injury

College Football

December 02, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Following last month's heartbreaking loss at Notre Dame, it appeared that Shane Todd's football career at the Naval Academy was over.

The Mount Airy resident, Navy's largest offensive lineman at 297 pounds, suffered a severe injury that - for lack of a detailed medical description - amounted to severe turf toe on his right foot. The senior has been limping noticeably since.

But, after missing the Mids' 63-34 blowout of Central Michigan, on Nov. 22, Todd wants badly to play against archrival Army on Saturday in Philadelphia, as all good Navy men should.

"This should have been a season-ending injury," said Todd. "But this is my last go. I've just got to keep practicing and hope."

Thanks to teammate Eric Frey, a seldom-used senior defensive lineman whom Todd first befriended when they were teammates at the Naval Academy prep school, the Linganore High graduate has just that - hope.

Frey might not even play in the game himself, but he is using the skills he is developing as a mechanical engineering major to do everything he can to ensure that Todd does.

With the assistance of his composites professor, Peter Joyce, team physician Dr. Jeff Fair, trainer Mike Nagro and others, Frey has constructed a special shoe for Todd that will rigidly keep his foot in place.

Fair originally designed a shoe that had a large plastic cast around it, but "it was real big and heavy," Frey said. "Plus, it gave some. So, I went to work on a composite that would keep it stiff."

Using graphite and a type of resin, Frey came up with a shoe that is "hard as a rock," said Nagro, "and it only weighs 2 pounds."

"It's real effective," said Todd. "I know that without Eric I wouldn't be able to play at all. That was the key factor."

This is a story of brotherhood. Todd said Frey "is already packed to the gills" with football, a tough course of study and, of course, the military aspects of the academy. "It's things like this that make Navy football what it is."

Todd, who said he is missing ligaments in the big toe, added that the first shoe was "too cumbersome. I lost traction. And the shoe still flexed."

Frey said he may now change his senior design project in the class to address other foot injuries.

Coach Paul Johnson isn't committing to Todd yet. Marshall Green, who started at Todd's center position and did a good job against Central Michigan, was running with the first unit in yesterday's practice.

"Todd's questionable," said Johnson. "He might play."

Without the help of Frey, that "might" would have been a "won't."

Next for Navy

Matchup: Navy (7-4) vs. Army (0-12)

Site: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

When: Saturday, 4 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 13, 9/WJFK (1300 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Line: Navy by 23

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.