When Tom Bates, Navy's sports information director, asked the guests at the school's spring football luncheon whether anyone needed a depth chart, his first customer was coach George Welsh.
"We're so young. I don't know the players without a scorecard, said Welsh, who confirmed that he wasn't kidding by perusing the yellow sheet with interest.
Navy is so young that some of the players likely to assume key roles next fall are still in high school. Among them is defensive end Mike Rouser of Seneca Valley, Md. The Washington Post's defensive player of the year.
Other local recruits of more than passing interest are Greg Papojohn, wide receiver from Crossland; Dennis Sinnett, offensive tackle from St. John's and brother of Navy basketball star Kevin Sinnett, and placekicker Joe DiRenzo of Severn School.
"We have a good freshman class now and the one coming in, on paper, is a good as any we've had" Welsh said. "They've got good speed and size. Recruiting is better for all the service academies. I think we're going to be much better in the next four years than we've been in the last four."
Speed is the chief asset of the Mids, whose regulars rarely approach the size of the football factories. Wide receivers Phil McConkey and Sandy Jones can run 40 yards under 4.6 seconds, tailback Steve Callahan is a 4.5 man and tight end Curt Gainer has clocked 4.7.
"We have more speed in the offense than any time since I've been here," said Welsh, looking ahead to his sixth season. "e're trying to run the option better and get outside, to take the pressure off our passing game."
As usual, Welsh is shifting players to make use of the best athletes available.Among the candidates for sports in a graduation-riddled defensive secondary are former quarterbacks Fred Reited and Bob Schrader, wide receiver Dave Dent and wingback Bob Wilson.Mark Washington, sophomore running back from Bowie, is working at left linebacker.
Quarterback Bob Leszczynski, who missed spring pratice a year ago while playing baseball, will be pitching passes today in the blue-gold scrimmage at 2 p.m. in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Fullback Larry Klawinski, however, will be manning a midfield position for Navy's lacrosse team at Maryland.
"We felt it was neccessary for Leszczynski to be with us," Welsh said. "He threw too many interceptions last year. So far, in 15 practices, 30 hours of work, he's shown improvement. He's a better quarterback right now than he was.
"Klawinski playing lacrosse bothered us some, because his backup, Dave Walker, fractured a bone in his wrist. I think it's put Klawinski back more than it's put the team back. I'd like to have him out there, but when a guy doesn't have a grant-in-aid, you can't very well pressure him."
For the first time in his Navy tenure, Welsh is rebounding from a loss to Army.
"Losing to Army lingers a bit," Welsh said. "Maybe it's given the coaching staff move resolve. We had things easy with them and maybe we got too fat, dumb and happy. The loss helped us to work harder. I hope it has the same effect on the team."