ANNAPOLIS —- Brandon Turner is well aware of fellow Navy wide receiver Doug Furman‘s zeal for blocking.
After all, Turner isn’t about to forget a time the senior prepared to crack block a defender, only for Furman to miss and knock Turner out instead.
“He’s a hard-nosed kid,” Turner said. “He’ll go and put his head on anybody. That’s a really good trait Doug has, and I really admire that.”
Furman is representative of Navy’s anonymous wide receiver corps, which lost Greg Jones to graduation after last season. Jones hauled in 662 receiving yards in the Midshipmen’s run-heavy offense, the most of any Navy player since 1984.
The six players on Navy’s depth chart at wideout own seven career catches, with Furman accounting for three of them. Yet he’s played plenty, starting three games as a junior and working primarily as a blocker.
“Looking back at sophomore year, you always have dreams of being that guy —- the Tyree Barnes, the Greg Jones,” Furman said. “But you have to earn your way. I didn’t mind blocking out there, cutting for Greg the last three years.”
Perhaps Furman emerges as Navy’s top pass target this fall. Even if he doesn’t, the Mids know precisely how important Furman’s skills on the perimeter will prove this season.
Receivers coach Mick Yokitis had an inkling when he worked with Furman at the academy’s prep school. Yokitis, himself a former Mids wideout, could envision the Ohio native emerging as a valuable piece of Navy’s offense.
“Most people don’t know him because he hasn’t caught the ball,” Yokitis said. “His job’s a little bit different. Doug knows his role. Doug knows his role is setting the tone. He’s going to try to come out and set the tone and try to decleat somebody and do his job blocking, and along those lines might catch a ball here or there. His role on the team is very well-defined, and that’s to be the enforcer.”
In most offenses, that task doesn’t fall to a wideout. Yet at Navy —- where, Turner joked, he is sometimes told his position is really “wide tackle” —- it’s a vital part of the job.
“There’s nobody tougher than Doug Furman,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “He’s a great young man. He’s what epitomizes our wide receivers —- selfless, tough. He’ll do whatever’s asked of him, and I’m hoping he has a big senior year.”
So, too, is Furman. With quarterback Kriss Proctor entering his first season as a starter, he’ll need to find a few reliable targets for the handful of times each game the Mids opt to pass.
Furman, the lone senior listed on the three-deep, believes he can make an even greater difference in his final season.
“I definitely feel more comfortable on the field, which is definitely going to help me with the pass game,” Furman said. “I know my plays. I see the defenses better. I definitely feel like it’s my turn.”
—- Patrick Stevens