Navy's offensive hopes Saturday at Georgia Tech depend on a fourth-string tailback who began this season as a wide receiver and spent some time as a fullback before being thrown into all-out combat against, of all teams, Notre Dame.

Sophomore Eddie Meyers' rise to prominence is given further Cinderella effect by some other facts. Only a second-string tailback in high school at Pemberton, N.J., Army brat Meyers chose Navy over other interested colleges in part because he would not be required to wrestle. Then he decided to wrestle anyway and scored his first collegiate victory as a freshman in the pressure-packed meet with Army.

"I figured to play a little bit this year, but not as much as I have," Meyers said. "Once everybody started getting hurt, I got my chance and I'm trying to make the most of it."

The big chance came two weeks ago at Notre Dame, after Duane Flowers joined Steve Callahan and Mike Sherlock on the injury list. Meyers responded by rushing for 99 yards, more than the Mids usually record as a team against the beefy Irish.

"I always imagined Notre Dame to be so awesome," said the 5-foot-9, 202-pounder. "But it's a different story once you're down on the field with them. We were able to stay in the ball game and I didn't feel out of place." t

Last week, as the Mids were trounced by Syracuse, Meyers again relieved Flowers and rambled for 76 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown run. He was chosen Navy's outstanding player by ABC television and Coach George Welsh was impressed enough to assign him his first start this week.

The TV honor constituted a rare double, since Eddie's brother, cornerback Charlie Meyers, received a similar accolade earlier this season in the 13-12 victory over Illinois.

Charlie's presence here was not the lure that brought Eddie to Navy, however.

"I wanted to go some place where I could play some ball," He said. "Colgate was my first choice, but they base scholarships on need, and I would have had to pay $3,500 a year. We couldn't afford that.

"Rutgers gave me the line that they'd come back to me if they didn't get who they wanted, which I didn't appreciate. And I could have gone just about any place with a full scholarship if I wanted to wrestle, but I wasn't interested.

"I wanted to come to Navy. Discipline has never been a problem for me, because my dad was 20 years in the Army and I know a little bit about the military. I went to NAPS (Naval Academy Preparatory School) first and they realy developed me into a runner. I'd been a linebacker in high school, although I did get to run kickoffs and punts and I was the second-string tailback."