ANNAPOLIS —- Navy’s top rusher in its season opener was not quarterback Trey Miller.
Nor was it starting fullback Noah Copeland.
Nor was it stalwart slotback Gee Gee Greene.
In fact, it was senior Prentice Christian, who didn’t see a carry until the final minute of the game.
“Finally just getting my first collegiate carry was great,” said Christian, who had two rushes for 39 yards. “It’s been a long road just working from NAPS all the way up to here. I just had to wait my turn.”
It was a long, long wait.
Christian came to Navy as a slotback, then moved over to fullback during the spring before his sophomore year. Fullbacks coach Mike Judge recalls Christian breaking a 55-yard run during his first week at the position and thinking the Mids had uncovered a natural.
Two factors kept him in check: Injuries and depth.
In front of Christian was Vince Murray and Alexander Teich and Delvin Diggs. But equally important was an inability to remain on the field.
“Last spring was really the first time he got to stay healthy,” Judge said. “Obviously, the opportunity is there for him. With the top two guys graduating, we have holes to fill. Some guys left school, things like that. Opportunities have started to arise for him, and he’s made the most of it.”
Christian did enough to secure a job as Copeland’s backup during camp. In recent years, that would have meant a few carries over the course of a game, but with the Mids trailing by 27-0 late in the first half and Miller nursing a sore left ankle, Navy veered away from the option as much as it usually does.
That meant Christian had to wait until the the waning stages of the 50-10 loss to finally collect a carry.
“I just wanted to hit it and make the guys that came before me proud,” Christian said.
In the process, he might have earned more work for himself as the Mids (0-1) enter Saturday’s trip to Penn State.
“He led the team in rushing,” Judge said. “You have to take it for what it is, it was against their twos and it was our twos, but but it’s still a live game rep against a different colored shirt that’s trying to tackle you. He showed some things in that. He showed flashes, just like he showed flashes throughout camp. Now we he has to do it consistently and his role will increase.”
—- Patrick Stevens