During the Navy football team's awards banquet after the 2000 season, defensive end Brad Wimsatt, one of two captains, thanked his fellow seniors and then singled out one player.
"I've got to recognize Ron Winchester," Wimsatt told a crowd of more than 1,000 players, coaches, fans and parents, "because he taught me to party to the extreme."
Navy coaches were remembering Winchester's gregarious personality yesterday, four days after the former Midshipmen tackle was killed in the Al Anbar province in western Iraq. Marine 1st Lt. Winchester, a 25-year-old native of Rockville Centre, N.Y., was the first former Navy football player killed during combat in Iraq.
"He was a pretty spirited kid," Navy recruiting coordinator Dale Pehrson said.
"I know a lot of players would go home with him over the weekend and during vacations, back up to New York, and they'd never come back the same. I don't know if there was a serious bone in his body, except for maybe when he was playing football."
Winchester, a two-year starter (2000 and '01), was among four Marines killed Thursday by a roadside bomb while they guarded a convoy, according to the Defense Department. The Marine's father, Ronald Winchester, said his son was killed on the eighth day of his second tour of duty in Iraq.
"He had that lineman's mentality," Winchester's father said.
"He wanted to be with the men. He basically died doing what he wanted to do. He said he had to go back over there so they wouldn't come here."
Ex-Navy Wrestler Killed
Another former Navy athlete, wrestler Brett Harman, was one of two men killed during a shooting outside North Carolina State's Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday. The Wake (N.C.) County Sheriff's Department arrested two suspects: brothers Tony Harold Johnson, 20, and Timothy Wayne Johnson, 22, both of Raleigh, N.C., the Raleigh News & Observer reported. Harman, a Marine 2nd lieutenant from Park Ridge, Ill., was a 2003 graduate of the Naval Academy.
Northeastern, the Midshipmen's opponent at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday, was involved in one of the more bizarre coaching changes in recent college football history. Don Brown, who led the Huskies to their only Atlantic 10 championship and Division I-AA playoffs appearance in 2002, was set to sign a contract extension with Northeastern during the offseason.
But before the ink on Brown's new contract was dry, Massachusetts coach Mark Whipple resigned to become quarterbacks coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. U-Mass. officials asked Northeastern for permission to talk to Brown about the vacancy, but the Huskies declined.
U-Mass. officials wooed Brown anyway, and he eventually agreed to coach the Minutemen. Northeastern took U-Mass. to court, and Suffolk (Mass.) Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly issued an injunction on March 11 that banned Brown from coaching at U-Mass.
Connolly lifted the injunction on April 2 and told the schools to work out their differences. As part of the settlement, Brown was suspended from coaching during the Minutemen's first three games, and U-Mass. had to publicly apologize and pay Northeastern $150,000. Northeastern plays at U-Mass. on Nov. 6.
Hager's Huskies Humming
The Huskies hired Temple assistant Rocky Hager to replace Brown. Hager, who won Division II national championships at North Dakota State in 1988 and 1990, led Northeastern to a 71-0 victory over Division II Cheyney (Pa.) University on Saturday.
"I don't care if you score 71 points against air, that's pretty good," Navy Coach Paul Johnson said. "I don't know if we could score 71 against air."
Johnson hopes to have back both tackle Casey Hughes and wide receiver Amir Jenkins; the two missed Saturday's 27-12 win over Duke with injuries.
Two Hoyas Honored
Georgetown tailback Kim Sarin and kicker Michael Gillman were both chosen as Patriot League players of the week.
Sarin ran for a career-high 154 yards on 21 carries in the Hoyas' 36-7 victory over St. Francis (Pa.), and Gillman kicked a school-record five field goals in the opener. Georgetown opens Patriot League play with a home game against Lafayette on Saturday.