Let's look beyond the obvious starters for 2007 and take a look at some players who could come out of left field to give significant contributions to the offense. Here are three players in particular I would keep my eye on going into Spring practices.
QB Jarod Bryant- Since most eyes will be focused on the impending quarterback competition, I thought starting out with Alabama's former Mr. Football would be fitting. While as fans we obviously support whoever gives the team the best chance to win, you can't help but like the rising junior from the famed Hoover High program (on a side note, hats off to Jarod, who spearheaded the football teams efforts to bring toys to an orphanage in Liberia.) While Kaipo-Noa started the last six games of last year and had good success, Coach Johnson has made it clear that he's not just going to hand the keys to Hawaiian without first giving Bryant (or even Troy Goss for that matter) a chance. Jarod has a good arm by Navy quarterback standards, and despite his size (5'11) sees the field well and understands where his targets are. He's an athletic player who has the ability to make people miss in the open field, but needs to show better understanding of running the option if he is to overtake Kaipo. After two years in the system he's had time to catch up with Kaipo's preexisting knowledge of the offense, which gives him an excellent chance to compete for the starting job. Remember, JB was recruited as a defensive back for Auburn, so he has the ability to play a variety of positions if he can't win the job.
SB Greg Shinego - It seems like every year Navy returns a talented and veteran group of slotbacks, with this year being no exception. With Reggie Campbell, Shun White, and Zerbin Singleton all coming back the unit is primed for success, and with several highly touted younger players coming up should be set for a few years to come. One of those players is Greg Shinego, a 5-9 speedster out of Port St. Lucie, Florida who saw limited action in mop-up duty last year. As it stands right now Shingeo is in position to win the job as the fourth slotback, which means the difference between contributing on a regular basis and watching from the sideline. If Shingeo can show he's a solid blocker there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to show off his athleticism on the field in '07.
WR Greg Sudderth- Despite the sudden departure of freshmen safety Jeromey Miles in January, Coach Johnson doesn't appear intent on switching Sudderth back to safety from wide receiver. You may recall Sudderth saw action at Safety in 2005 and early in 2006, but was moved to wide receiver last October after his job was overtaken by several talented newcomers. Sudderth is that rare kind of athlete who chooses USNA over several BCS conference schools, but to date he has not lived up to the hype he generated as an incoming recruit. Still, he has excellent size (6'2, 203) and good speed, and now that he's finally clear of some nagging injuries and focused on getting better at wide receiver, there is no reason he shouldn't at least compete for playing time. The biggest obstacle for Sudderth will be Navy's growing depth at wide receiver, where returning starter OJ Washington and veteran Tyree Barnes have all but locked up next year's starting spots. Add in Curtis Sharp and possibly Troy Goss, and you've got a very interesting position battle to watch this spring.
Others to Watch: John Forbes, Ben Gabbard, Eric Kettani, Bobby Doyle, Scott Oswald, Ryan Burke.