Navy football coach Paul Johnson looks at his quarterbacks and sees all kinds of possibilities.
Barring injury, senior Brian Hampton looks like a lock to line up behind center in the season opener Sept. 2 against visiting East Carolina. Hampton did nothing to change that likelihood in Saturday's first intrasquad scrimmage. Against the first-team defense, he rushed for a team-high 71 yards and a touchdown and completed six of nine pass attempts for 76 yards.
As for the rest of the quarterbacks, things could get interesting, since junior quarterback Troy Goss and sophomores Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and Jarrod Bryant are good athletes with a solid grasp of the spread triple-option offense. In light of that, the threesome is getting work at other skill positions.
Goss and Kaheaku-Enhada are spending time at wide receiver, while Bryant is getting some repetitions at slotback.
Playing multiple positions is nothing new at Navy, where Hampton began as a slotback and a kick return man. But the trio of backups is so close in ability that Johnson lumped them together as a collective No. 2 quarterback on yesterday's depth chart. Goss, the most experienced, opened camp as the top backup.
"We've had a hard time separating the quarterbacks," Johnson said. "You'd like to have [a bigger] difference between them. We'll just roll those guys around, because I think they're good athletes and we want to try to get them on the field. They all bring something to the table."
Saturday, each quarterback led the offense on at least one 70-yard drive for a touchdown.
Singleton steps up
On the strength of a strong first 10 days of camp and a fine scrimmage, junior slotback Zerbin Singleton has moved ahead of senior Trey Hines and is now listed as the starter opposite junior Reggie Campbell.
Singleton, 5 feet 8, 164 pounds, who transferred from Georgia Tech in 2004, scored on a 35-yard run off an option pitch and caught a 23-yard pass Saturday.
"[Singleton] has really played hard and busted his tail. He's earned it," Johnson said.
After sitting out the 2004 season, Singleton played mainly on special teams last year.
Making big impact
When junior cornerback Greg Thrasher, who started 10 games last year, decided to sit out 2006 to concentrate on academics, it opened up a game of musical chairs in the defensive backfield and created a spot that sophomore Ketric Buffin appears poised to grab.
Senior defensive backs Jeremy McGown and Keenan Little are settling on the corners, and were pretty much guaranteed starters as camp opened. Senior safety DuJuan Price has rejoined contact drills in practice after nursing a sore quadriceps last week.
In the meantime, Buffin is securing a spot as the Midshipmen's starting rover. Buffin, 5-7, 164, has been physical throughout camp. On Saturday, he helped cause an incomplete pass by leveling Campbell, who needed a minute to catch his breath while lying on the field.
"Every game we go into, we're smaller than everybody else," Buffin said. "We all have that chip on our shoulder. I've just got a bigger one because I'm so small."
Hall on way back
Junior Adam Ballard has established himself as the No. 1 fullback, but his best competition is returning to the practice field. Senior Matt Hall, who has missed the past week of practice with a hamstring problem, is expected to rejoin the Mids today.