Brian Broadwater was signed to play football at Bucknell University when the Naval Academy coaches started to call on him.
All-state as a defensive back at Lower Dauphin (Pa.) High School, he changed his mind in May and decided he was going to the Naval Academy Prep School to play safety.
Broadwater couldn't have envisioned then that he would enter 1999 as the starting quarterback for the Midshipmen, who launch their season tomorrow at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium against 10th-ranked Georgia Tech.
There is no quarterback controversy in Annapolis. Although sophomore Brian Madden -- who had a 7-0 record while starting for last year's junior varsity -- is a promising backup, Broadwater is the man.
He will be entrusted with the duty of preventing the Midshipmen from beating themselves with mistakes, which happened all too often during last year's 3-8 season, which concluded with four consecutive losses.
Coach Charlie Weatherbie said Broadwater has been efficient during three tough weeks of preseason practice.
"There is no doubt he is more confident and has a lot confidence in the people around him," said Weatherbie. "He understands our offense a lot better as a scheme and he'll now jump in the huddle and take charge. He has done an outstanding job of taking control."
Broadwater became No. 1 after Steve Holley (now a slotback) was injured in the sixth game last season. He immediately led Navy to come-from-behind victories over Colgate and Boston College, becoming only the third quarterback in Navy history to run for more than 200 yards in a game against Colgate.
He is now bigger, stronger and wiser.
"I have a different mentality than last year," Broadwater said. "I've got to try to be the leader. And the 10 pounds I've added should help me be a little more durable. My goal is to try to stay out of the training room all season."
The 6-foot, 194-pound Broadwater is considered a resourceful quarterback by Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary, who has a Heisman Trophy candidate at the position in Joe Hamilton.
"He can take advantage of what the defense gives him," O'Leary said of Broadwater. "From what we see, he runs extremely well, runs the offense well and has a strong arm. He can make things happen."
Broadwater said his primary objective is to "take care of the football. Last year, turnovers hurt us a lot due to my inexperience. Hopefully, if I make the right decisions and try not to force the ball, good things will happen. Our coaches always stress that it's better to be second-and-15 than to have the ball going the other way."
Broadwater rushed for 679 yards and five touchdowns and completed 47 of 98 passes for 838 yards and seven scores, with six interceptions. Not eye-catching numbers, but certainly adequate.
He said Navy will "stress getting outside" with its triple-option attack. "The coaches will call the plays; it's our job to execute them."
Broadwater isn't giving any thought to what Tech's Hamilton might do.
"We can only control what we do," he said. "I don't pay too much attention to who's running the other team. I think we've improved."
NOTES: The opener will be telecast by Fox Sports Net and Home Team Sports, with Paul Kennedy doing the play-by-play and Tom Ramsey the analysis. The game-day crowd is expected to be approximately 28,000. Tickets are still available (1-800-US4-NAVY). O'Leary will watch the game from the press box because of a one-game NCAA suspension which bans him from the sidelines. He was penalized in April for making an improper loan to former running back C.J. Williams. The Yellow Jackets have won six consecutive road games. Navy has a three-game winning streak against Georgia Tech, including a 36-26 win in 1996 that helped the Midshipmen gain a berth in the Aloha Bowl.