ANNAPOLIS, OCT. 5 -- Brian McGoldrick, who had been Navy's starting right offensive guard, said today he quit the football team last week because he was concerned with his progress as a midshipman, with an injury that was not healing properly and with his future.

"When you are sworn into the Navy, you promise that you will become a professional Naval officer after four years. And that's your primary goal in getting through here," said McGoldrick, a junior from Valparaiso, Fla., who started all 11 games last season and the first three this season.

"I wasn't failing out, but I wasn't happy with what I was doing . . . It bothered me. I don't like to do anything halfway mediocre," he said. "With my grades not being as high as I wanted them and my {military grades} not being as high as I wanted them, I was thinking about those things and I wasn't playing football as well as I could have. It was like being pulled in two different directions.

"This place is ranked on competitiveness, and football takes up a lot of your time. To get what I wanted in terms of career choice, I need to be higher in the class than I am now."

McGoldrick, who said his father had served in the Air Force for 30 years, wants to be a pilot. He did what he could to be able to achieve that goal while continuing to play football, a game he says he still loves.

He changed his major from systems engineering to general engineering. He wore a cast while playing since the beginning of last season to protect his left wrist, broken while weightlifting two summers ago. After participating in spring practice, he underwent an operation in which a pin and a bone graft from his hip were implanted in his wrist.

As the fall semester went along, McGoldrick decided that his academic and performance grades were hurting him, that his wrist was hurting him (it still does not have full range of motion) and that he was hurting the team.

"All of those things went into the decision, and I had always known that one of the benefits of the Academy was that if something happened, I wouldn't be losing a scholarship," said McGoldrick, who was recruited out of high school by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and several other big-time football schools.

Coach Elliot Uzelac "definitely wasn't happy with my decision," McGoldrick said. But he added that he feels no animosity toward any of the coaches or players and had the team been 4-0 instead of 0-4 "it would have been a much harder decision -- although I like to think I would have done the same thing anyway."

"I don't hate Navy football," said McGoldrick, who is now playing intramural tennis twice a week and marching twice a week as he attempts to go from his playing weight of 267 pounds to 230, a Navy standard from which he had been exempt. "I still support the Navy team 100 percent. I hope they go the rest of the season undefeated."