Everyone knows what Eddie Meyers, Steve Fehr and Tim Jordan can do. As juniors a year ago, they led a surprising Navy football team to an 8-3 regular-season record and a $400,000 payoff in an otherwise forgettable Garden State Bowl matchup with Houston.
Today, as Bill XXII butted his way through the wrapping paper in the traditional kickoff of preseason practice, the faces and thoughts of Meyers, Fehr and Jordan were in constant demand, and a lot of nice words accompanied mention of their names.
"Meyers is as good a tailback as we've ever had," said Coach George Welsh. "He has outstanding ability: quickness, speed, strength. He has a chance to be an outstanding tailback. He's no Herschel Walker, but he's as good as almost anybody in the country.
"We've never had a kicker gain the recognition of Fehr. He's a blue chipper, one of the country's best field-goal kickers. He may be our punter, too. I don't want to use him there, because I think it would detract from his place-kicking, but we may have to take that route.
"Jordan is as good or better than any nose guard we've ever had and we've had some good ones in recent seasons. His strength and quickness combine with his great techniques to make him an outstanding pass rusher."
Off to the side, responding to occasional requests for home-state photos but otherwise largely ignored, were guys named Yelder, Hagan, Woodhouse, McCall, Smith, Boring and Papajohn. Although they are guaranteed minimal recognition this season, it is in the development of them and their understudies that the fate of this Navy team rests. As of the opening of practice, they represent Navy's first-string offensive line.
Chris Yelder, senior split end, has caught only two passes for Navy and has not lettered at the academy.
Cliff Hagan, 239-pound senior left tackle, was a starter last year until the Air Force game, when he suffered a knee injury that required surgery and kept him out of spring practice.
Mark Woodhouse, 230-pound junior left guard from Virginia Beach, saw limited action a year ago as a defensive tackle and is another nonletterman.
Dennis McCall, 225-pound junior center, played two games as a guard a year ago, then missed the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
Craig Smith, 238-pound senior right guard, has labored as an offensive and defensive tackle in the past, without earning a letter.
Keith Boring, 265-pound senior right tackle, was a starter much of last season, but broke an arm in spring practice.
Greg Papajohn, 6-5 senior tight end out of Crossland High, was Navy's No. 3 pass receiver a year ago, as a split end. If he weighed his listed 201 pounds, he would be light for a tight end; actually, despite a summer of weight lifting and eating, he comes in below 200.
The quarterback heir apparent to graduated Fred Reitzel is Tom Tarquinio, a junion who performed capably in victories over Syracuse and Georgia Tech.