- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2003

Bronston Carroll saw an opportunity to do something in his final season at Navy that he hadn’t done since high school — carry the football.

Playing slotback for the Midshipmen last year in his first varsity season, Carroll got into seven games but did not touch the ball. Knowing the two prime slotbacks were back this year, he asked to be moved to fullback, where he was more comfortable and could fight for playing time.

Coach Paul Johnson approved the move, and in the spring game Carroll rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown. He opened fall practice third on the depth chart, performing consistently and staying healthy unlike the two players ahead of him. Now atop the depth chart, Carroll will get the first touches of his Navy career today when Virginia Military Institute visits Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

“This is something I’ve been yearning to do for four years,” Carroll said. “I’m excited, and I’m ready for that opening hit. After that, everything will calm down.”

Carroll was the tailback for his high school team that won the Texas state championship his senior season. His strength as a runner comes from reading defenses and following blockers, not from running the sidelines and catching passes as slotbacks in Johnson’s triple-option offense are often asked to do.

Today’s start hardly guarantees Carroll playing time for the rest of the season or even the rest of the game, because Johnson expects to spread the ball around looking for the hot hand. Junior Michael Brimage was the preseason favorite at fullback but a foot injury has sidelined him periodically in practice. His backup, junior Kyle Eckel, missed time with a knee injury but is expected to play tomorrow. If Brimage can’t go, sophomore Marvin Dingle will serve as the third fullback.

“They’ve all done some good things in the fall,” Johnson said. “But there’s not a big separation between them right now, and in my mind if there’s not a huge separation you need to give the benefit of the doubt to the guy who’s practiced every day. I think Bronston’s earned the chance to start, and he deserves it.”

Carroll will get the opening shot against a VMI defense that allowed an average of 255.9 yards on the ground last year. The Keydets are switching to a 4-3 defense in hopes of controlling the ground game but return only one starter in their front seven.

VMI also lost quarterback Joey Gibson to graduation after he amassed more than 2,500 yards of total offense and scored 24 touchdowns in his senior season. Redshirt freshman Jonathan Wilson takes over as one of five new offensive starters.

The matchup appears favorable for the Mids as they look for their first home victory since 1999.

“A home win has been a long time coming,” Carroll said. “It’s nice to have a chance, as a senior, to help begin a new era. The greater the adversity, the greater the triumph.”

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