Napoleon McCallum and Bill Byrne have chucked the canes, so the only one hobbling around the Naval Academy right now is football Coach Gary Tranquill.
Tranquill became the first casualty of spring practice the other day when some overzealous linemen ran him over with a sled.
"They were pushing it and it ran over my foot," he said.
Tranquill has taken it in stride, sporting a soft sandal until the bruise wears off. And what's a bruise when McCallum -- returning for a fifth season at Navy after breaking an ankle early last year -- and Byrne -- the quarterback who sat out the last three games also with a broken ankle -- have been racing around spring practice like a couple of plebes in search of a free weekend?
The leading all-purpose rusher in the nation and a Heisman Trophy candidate his junior year, McCallum broke the ankle in the third game of his senior season against Virginia. The academy permitted him to return for one more semester and so far he has shown no ill effects from the injury.
"I was a little suspect early," Tranquill said at a news conference today to summarize the spring workouts, which conclude Saturday with a scrimmage. "I wanted to see if he was going to be tentative, I thought he might be kind of feeling around with it. He hasn't shown any of that. He's right where we want him to be. He's like the McCallum of old."
The McCallum of old already has several 17 Navy records. He was 83 yards away from the all-time school career rushing record when he suffered his injury.
The progress of Byrne is enough to make the normally impassive Tranquill's eyes fill. The junior quarterback set nine Navy passing records before suffering his injury. The big surprise of last year, he threw for 1,425 yards and a school-record 11 touchdowns in eight games. According to Tranquill, his form so far has been even better.
"He doesn't have a lot of athletic talent," Tranquill said. "He doesn't have a quick body or very good footwork. He's got kind of a funny release, he throws a little lower than ideal. But he has other things. He makes a decision and pulls the trigger. He's able to make the right things happen, and that's the No. 1 prerequisite. He's throwing the ball as well as anybody I've ever seen right now."
The nearly idyllic spring has been marred, however, by a couple of major rebuilding chores. One particularly worrisome area is the offensive line. All seven starters are gone.
"That was our No. 1 objective," Tranquill said. "We'll be quite a bit bigger and stronger, but we won't have the experience."
Four seniors are returning in Frank Bijack and Pat Hoffman at tackle and Chris Castelli and Mark Miller at guard. A pleasant surprise has been the emergence of sophomore guard Tim Brunn.
The Midshipmen are also in search of some depth on the defensive line, particularly at tackle. Junior Bob Plantz, who started at tackle most of last fall, is back. Junior Kent VanHorn also should step in, but so far that's about it. Seniors Dave Pimpo and Dirk McFarlane are returning at middle guard, and one of them may be moved to tackle to help out.
"The tackle makes me nervous," Tranquill said. "We have to shore it up, and right now I'm not sure how."
But Byrne's improvement and the rare decision to let McCallum extend his stay one semester has already had an uplifting effect on the Midshipmen, Tranquill said. Witness the sled incident.
"Everybody knew Napoleon would be back beforehand," Tranquill said. "He's a leader, they know what he can do. Byrne is the same. I think the guys know that with a little extra effort here and there, he'll (McCallum) make the big play. If they strain a little more on pass protection and let Byrne get the ball off, he'll make something happen. It's not something that's visible maybe, but they may give a little extra."