Bridgers Hopes to Make a Splash for Navy

By Christian Swezey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 2, 2007

A background in swimming has been both helpful and hurtful to Navy offensive lineman Paul Bridgers. Each midshipman is required to take three semesters of swimming at the academy. However, they can be excused from the course if they get "validated," i.e., they reach the required time and distance on the first day of class.

Bridgers swam for three years at Gaithersburg High School and was validated on the first day of each of his three swimming classes.

"People always think I'm lying" about being a good swimmer, said Bridgers, a senior who is 6 feet 3 and 268 pounds.

The downside came during a meeting with the offensive linemen a couple years ago. During a break while watching film, one of the coaches went around the room asking the linemen what sports they played in high school. Bridgers's answer received the loudest response.

"Everybody was interested to know if he wore a Speedo or not," senior center Antron Harper said.

Did he?

"He did," Harper said. "It's a sight I wanted to get out of my head really quickly."

Bridgers is about to have another claim to fame. He is expected to make his second career start at right tackle tomorrow, when the Midshipmen (4-4) face Notre Dame (1-7) in South Bend, Ind.

His first start was on Saturday, after he overtook junior Andrew McGinn on the depth chart. The two split time in a 59-52 loss to Delaware.

But McGinn injured his foot against the Blue Hens and is out for at least a week, meaning Bridgers likely will play most of the game against the Fighting Irish. Junior guard-tackle Ricky Moore (Northern) will take McGinn's spot on the eight-man rotation among the linemen.

Bridgers's football career had an unusual beginning. Gaithersburg Coach Kreg Kephart recalled seeing Bridgers in eighth grade and asking him to play football in high school.

"I told him I was happy playing baseball and wanted nothing to do with football," Bridgers said. "So I didn't play my freshman year."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company