Chase is natural as leader of Navy's defense

Senior defensive end anchors youthful unit

College Football

August 24, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

He has played with passion, at several positions, through injury and on more downs than anyone else currently in the Navy football program.

Because of all those attributes, end Jeremy Chase was the logical choice to serve as the defensive captain for the 2005 team.

"We're relying on him in a lot of ways, on the field and off the field," said coach Paul Johnson. "He is one of the few guys we have who has played a lot of snaps. We need him to have the best year he's ever had for us."

The Navy captains must be senior lettermen. Johnson has all the lettermen vote for their choices, then polls the entire team. The selections of Chase and quarterback Lamar Owens (on offense) were nearly unanimous in both instances.

Chase will need to anchor a fledgling defense that has only one other senior on the first unit, linebacker Jake Biles, who has recorded far less game action than Chase, a 24-game starter beginning in his sophomore season.

"I'm pretty honored that my teammates believed in me," said Chase. "I'll try to lead by example because I'm not the biggest talker or yeller."

At about 275 pounds, the Norfolk, Va., native will also be the heaviest member of a defense that will depend more than ever on quickness and gang-tackling. The three-man defensive line is crucial to overall success since it must occupy the opposing offensive linemen enough to free the four Navy linebackers to amass the majority of the tackles.

Chase knows full well what that means. He started nine games at linebacker before being shifted to end in the middle of his sophomore season.

"When I switched, I had a hard time making the transition at first. I wanted to be standing up [as a linebacker]," he said. "But after a few games, I got more comfortable. Now I'm happy where I am."

Chase played through a nagging shoulder injury last season that kept him out of 2005 spring practice.

"He's a tough kid," said defensive coordinator Buddy Green. "Jeremy can run a little bit and he plays hard all the time. He's a guy who will lead through example."

"We're going to have to grow up a lot in practice," Chase said of the defense. "We're young. We can be just as good as last year because the talent level is there. But we need to keep working and working."

NOTE: Promising linebacker Keith Lisante was moved to the outside after returning to the team following a weeklong absence. Lisante quit initially because he was concerned about his academic progress but did well in summer school and asked to rejoin the team.

The team voted to have him rejoin the squad, so Johnson reinstated him. "He was willing to take the punishment and will miss the first game," he said.

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