Punter Emery's calling was to receive, Navy sees

Navy's Greg Emery knew all along he wasn't really a punter. A wide receiver, that was what he wanted to be.

Emery was a punter only as an afterthought at Damascus High in Montgomery County, making the Washington All-Metro first team as a receiver in his senior season and helping Damascus go 11-2 and reach the state championship game.


He was recruited by Navy as a wide receiver, but after his plebe season on the JV, the coaches asked what else he could do. They didn't think he had a future at Navy as a receiver, but they liked his work habits.

"I punted in high school," Emery said.


He was Navy's punter for the first three games as a sophomore in 1992, then lost the job to Brian Schrum. He spent the rest of the season as kick holder, backup punter and emergency kicker. Over the final eight games, his foot never touched the ball.

"Punting wasn't what I wanted to do," Emery said.

Receiving is more like it. After persuading the coaches to give him another chance, Emery worked on his strength and speed after his sophomore season, and spent last year as a reserve wide receiver, catching three passes for 29 yards.

This season, at last, he has blossomed. As 0-2 Navy prepares for its trip to Bowling Green on Saturday, Emery, with six catches for 133 yards, is the team's second-leading receiver behind Damon Dixon.

"He has developed into a quite capable wide receiver," coach George Chaump said. "He's the typical academy athlete -- good attitude, intelligent, good work ethic, with bulldog perseverance. I wish we had him for another year. We'll get what we can from him and be happy for that."

Emery's first exposure to Navy was at a basketball camp at the academy when he was in junior high.

"I had no intention of coming here then," Emery said. "I noticed the mids had a certain air about them, as future leaders. I was impressed. When they recruited me for football, I was really interested."

Emery and his teammates are coping with a start in which they have been outscored 103-24. Navy has dropped seven in a row and 13 straight on the road. In Bowling Green, which lost to North Carolina State, 20-15, and crushed Akron, 45-0, they will face a team they beat last year at Annapolis, but which is 14-0-1 in its last 15 home games.


"More than anything we need to develop confidence in ourselves, prove to ourselves we can do it," Emery said. "The only way to do that is to win."

In last year's 27-20 win over Bowling Green, quarterback Jim Kubiak had one of his best days, completing 28 of 34 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Bowling Green coach Gary Blackney remembers the game vividly.

"We didn't do anything to stop Kubiak," Blackney said of the current Navy senior. "He was superb. Everything he threw, he completed. He did what he wanted. We've got to put a little pressure on him."

In an attempt to improve Kubiak's protection, Chaump juggled the offensive line this week. With Dean Wakeham, perhaps the team's best lineman, back from a knee injury and starting for the first time at left tackle, Chaump is returning two others to their familiar positions, Alex Domino from left tackle to right guard and Erasto Jackson, a defensive lineman last season, from right guard to right tackle.

"We want to get our best linemen on the field," Chaump said, referring to Domino, Wakeham and Jackson.