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Navarre glares back at spotlight

November 02, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Jeremy Navarre is one of those guys who jumps behind a bush when the spotlight swings his way.

The University of Maryland defensive end isn't a publicity hog. He's not used to having anyone besides offensive linemen in his grill.

Those guys, he can push aside. But the glare of the limelight is not Navarre's flavor of the month. But he's learning.

"I like it, but I'm not much of an attention guy," the sophomore said. "I've never been much for that kind of thing, but it comes with the territory of playing college football."

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If Navarre has a few more games like he had against Florida State last Saturday, he might have to get used to that territory.

Navarre provided the major-impact plays the Terrapins needed to turn back the Seminoles.

He managed five tackles against Florida State, which doesn't seem like much. But the five hits were only the top of the checklist.

Half of the tackles (2 1/2) threw Florida State for losses.

He forced the only fumble of the game, which led to a Maryland TD.

He stuffed a fourth-down play at the 50, turning the ball over to the Terps.

He sacked Florida State quarterback Xavier Lee for an 8-yard loss with under two minutes remaining. Lee was also called for an illegal forward pass, which made for a longer attempt for a tying field goal.

And to top it off, Navarre broke in and blocked that final 46-yard field goal attempt with less than 10 seconds remaining to preserve the win.

Each of the plays was a product of Navarre's technique to push his way into Florida State's backfield.

"The key thing is penetration," he said. "It's my main thing because I'm undersized (6-foot-3, 263). I try to stay low and if I get penetration, that's huge. It can mess up a play."

But it was all in a day's work.

"There were big plays in the five tackles, but if I would have only got one and we won, it would still be as pleasurable," he said. "I've got a lot of response (around campus for his game). I've just got to ignore it and focus on the team and focus on getting better."

That got a little harder to do Tuesday when Navarre was named the Atlantic Coast Conference co-defensive lineman of the week with Georgia Tech's Phillip Wheeler.

There was more limelight to deal with.

"I didn't see that coming. It's an honor," he said. "Now I've got to build off this and not let it go to my head."

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen marks it all off as the kind of player that Navarre is.

"Jeremy plays hard every week. He is kind of a throw-back guy," Friedgen said. "He's a tough, hard-nosed player. He gives you what he's got every day in practice and doesn't say a lot. I was glad to see him have a breakout game and be honored as the ACC (defensive) lineman of the week."

As for the throwback label ...

"I guess I am in terms that defensive ends used to be 245 pounds and not very fast," he said.

Navarre ignores the spotlight because he is driven to succeed.

After an all-state senior year in football and becoming the first state wrestling champ in Joppatowne High's history, Navarre graduated early and enrolled at Maryland a semester early to get acclimated and start preparing for his football career.

His choice to miss all the ceremonies that go with graduation is now paying off with success on the college football field.

And with success, comes attention, whether Navarre likes it or not.

"I don't hate it," he said. "I played a good game on Saturday. It's Tuesday now. I'm looking to the next game."

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