November 2, 2007

Navarre does double-duty

The mere mention of the name Jeremy Navarre to Maryland defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo gets the assistant's face animated, his voice even louder and faster than usual.

Navarre is the kind of blue-collar player that Sollazzo loves having on his unit. Even though Navarre might not be as gifted as others with great speed and athleticism, he comes to play no matter what the circumstance. And lately there have been plenty of circumstances for the junior three-year starter to deal with.

"He's a guy that has a motor on him that doesn't quit," Sollazzo said about the 6-3, 262-pounder from Joppatowne. "He's a hard worker, a tough guy who loves football, and the game is very, very important to him. I really like how he takes his job seriously."

Early in Navarre's career there was some question about what kind of defensive end he could become because of his speed. He came to Maryland as a fullback but moved to the defensive side of the ball to help a short-handed unit and has been a starter ever since.

"He was an offensive player," said senior defensive tackle Carlos Feliciano. "He wasn't one of us in the beginning. All three of us kind of had a bet on how long he would last over here. We are the guys in the trenches. We don't get much of a running start like the fullbacks do."

Thirty two games later, after starting in 30, Navarre has developed into one of the Terps' anchors up front, and one of the team's hardest workers. His 15 career tackles-for-a-loss tie Dre Moore for most among active Terps.

But against Clemson he played 79 of 85 defensive plays, and the wear is starting to take its toll during a trying season for the unit. The defense seems to have lost some of its focus and isn't playing its assignments as well, while basics like tackling and pursuit angles have trailed off. Even Navarre's play has suffered from the over-work.

"That's way too many plays for the defensive end to handle and Jeremy sat out only six. That tells me that he never quits and is always ready for the next play," Sollazzo said.

Sollazzo believes Navarre will next year grow into a tackle, and already he is a part-timer inside on the depleted front. If he has a future playing professionally it will come inside, where he will have to continue to gain weight to make the transition.

"Up until the Clemson game I've been averaging about 15 plays a game inside," Navarre said. "This week I stayed at the end partly because Mack Frost is out for the season. I like playing inside and I like coming off of the edge, too. I think that I can be effective playing both positions and by doing that we can give the other team's offensive line a different look."

"For now he's our best defensive end," Sollazzo said. "But he's getting bigger and stronger so I think he'll eventually move inside. I like his intensity and his tremendous fight that he brings to the tackle and the desire to get the job done. He does bring more speed inside than we have with the other guys. He does pass rush better from the inside also, but Dre and Carlos are doing well inside, too."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!