Another Polanco digs in for Navy

College football: He may not be a star like his twin Aaron, but James adds a `hard-nosed' dimension to the Mids.

College Football

August 18, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Will the Polanco family of Wimberley, Texas, make another huge imprint on the Navy football program this autumn?

A year ago, Aaron Polanco emerged from Craig Candeto's shadow to quarterback the Midshipmen to their most successful record (10-2) in 99 years, an Emerald Bowl victory, the Commander in Chief's Trophy that is presented to the winner of the competition among the three major military academies, and a No. 24 national ranking.

He enjoyed one of the most productive seasons ever by a Navy quarterback, leading the team in scoring with 16 touchdowns, rushing with nearly 1,000 net yards, setting season and career records for passing yards per attempt and even catching two passes in the bowl game to top the team's receivers.

Aaron is still at The Yard, assisting the coaching staff - particularly with the young quarterbacks - while awaiting a January assignment to basic school for Marine officers in Quantico, Va. His influence will be marginal in 2005. The family spotlight now shifts to his twin, James.

Don't expect a big splash.

"It would be nice to do everything Aaron did, but I'm just looking to do whatever I can to help the team," said James, who never played on the varsity during his previous three years at the academy.

A member of the scout team (which simulates the upcoming opponent) last season, James originally enrolled at Texas Tech but never played there. Always military oriented, he intended to transfer and "was looking at the Air Force Academy at first," a move that would have made him a bitter rival in Annapolis.

But the lure of rejoining Aaron helped sway him toward Navy, where he has encountered a tough road on the football field. A broken leg halted his progress in 2004, and he entered this fall a long shot for playing time at safety.

A week ago, coach Paul Johnson and his staff shifted James to outside linebacker, where he is listed third on the depth chart behind potential star David Mahoney.

"He's doing well there," Johnson said. "We've moved him to a position that fits him. He's a hard-nosed kid."

Johnson joked that "we thought about moving him to quarterback," where James could attempt to reprise Aaron's feats.

"Naw, he can't throw for anything," Aaron said. "It's something we always made fun of."

Everything is changing with the identical twins. The Polancos used to fool their dates by changing places, but James said that tomfoolery "has kind of stopped. Most of them know about that now. " Added Aaron: "He's the ladies man. I've got me a steady."

NOTE: Earlier this week, Trey Hines was taken out of the crowded slotback picture and switched to fullback, where depth was thin, particularly when No. 2 Adam Ballard was nursing a minor injury. The fastest player on the squad over 40 yards, Hines has "ripped over a couple of nice runs" in practice," according to Johnson, and could be a factor in the replacement team for Kyle Eckel.

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