Part of a position-by-position look at Navy football this spring
NAVY WIDE RECEIVERS
Starters returning (2): SB Gee Gee Greene (64 rushes, 501 yards, 3 TD; 11 receptions, 165 yards, 4 TD, 12 starts); SB John Howell (35 rushes, 340 yards, 5 TD; 4 receptions, 96 yards, 6 starts)
Other notable returnees: SB Bo Snelson (17 rushes, 91 yards; 3 receptions, 45 yards); SB Darius Staten (8 rushes, 74 yards)
Starters lost (1): SB Aaron Santiago (graduation; 31 rushes, 257 yards, 3 TD; 3 receptions, 55 yards, 1 TD 6 starts)
Other notable departures: SB Mike Stukel (graduation; 19 rushes, 106 yards, 2 TD)
Emerging names to know: SB Marcus Thomas (junior), Ryan Williams-Jenkins (sophomore)
Career starts returning: 33 (Greene 27, Howell 6)
Career starts lost: 12 (Santiago 12)
College sports are in many ways cyclical, thanks simply to the nature of rosters entirely turning over every four or five years.
In 2010, there was no certainty about Navy’s slotbacks. It may well be the case again in another 12 months.
It surely isn’t how things are now.
There might not be a greater known on the Midshipmen’s roster than Gee Gee Greene. He is one of eight Navy players to start every game last fall. Only four return. Just three Mids have started each game for two years running: Greene, graduated defensive end Jabaree Tuani and left guard Josh Cabral.
Greene also happens to be productive, averaging 7.1 yards per carry during his career. It doesn’t hurt that he has help – returning help, no less.
John Howell was a capable fill-in when Aaron Santiago went down with injury, though almost precisely a third of his rushing production (113 yards on three carries) came in one game off the bench against Western Kentucky. His 9.7 yards per carry is downright gaudy with that game included; take it out, and it’s still a stout 7.1 yards per carry.
With Santiago gone (along with Mike Stukel, who scored a pair of touchdowns in November), all of Navy’s reserves will rise a spot in prominence. That includes captain Bo Snelson, occasional kickoff returner Darius Staten and regular kickoff returner Marcus Thomas.
All three have seen the field, and all three fit the physical mold of a typical Navy slotback (between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8 and less than 200 pounds).
Essentially, they are the sort of pieces Navy could use to uncork a few quick strikes. After producing six scoring runs of 12 or more yards in its first three games last fall, the Mids had just four the rest of the season. Thanks to the efficiency of guys like Greene and Howell, Navy should be able to improve upon that this year.