Starter: Noah Copeland #34 Jr.
Backup: Chris Swain #27 So.
Third string: Quinton Singleton #36 Jr.
The Navy fullback position looked strong during spring drills. The Mids came out of spring practice with two exceptional players in the top two spots of the position. Starter Noah Copeland was able to retain his starting spot but Chris Swain greatly impressed the Midshipmen staff with his ability. The staff discussed moving Copeland to slotback so they could get both him and Swain on the field but decided to keep both talented players at B-back.
Noah Copeland (5-10, 214) is a smaller fullback who would probably be a fine slotback. Last season as a sophomore Copeland had 162 carries for 738 yards and five touchdowns. Averaging 4.6 yards per carry, the Texas native also caught 12 passes for 91 yards. Copeland's finest day against an FBS opponent was against home state Texas State when he gained 110 yards on 17 carries for two touchdowns. Copeland also had a big day against rival Army gaining 99 yards on 22 carries. In that game Copeland's second quarter 12-yard touchdown run gave the Mids an early 7-0 lead.
Despite being effective in some games, Copeland struggled in others. He gained just 15 yards in seven carries at Penn State. Against San Jose State, Troy and Indiana he rushed for a combined 69 yards in 26 carries (2.6 ypg). Despite having some low number games Copeland was a decent fullback. In 162 carries he lost just three total yards all season which is the kind of number you'd like to see in a fullback. In a crunch he has the ability to rumble for that badly needed 1-yard gain.
Chris Swain invoked memories of former fullback Kyle Eckel who was playing for the Mids 10 years ago. Indeed there are some similarities. Swain (5-11, 235) and Eckel (5-11, 237) are similar in size and both have the ability to run you over. Eckel, who once led Navy on a fourth quarter drive that lasted nearly the entire quarter, was one of the toughest and hardest running players to ever play for the college game. He went on to a five year NFL career following his time at the academy.
Last season Swain didn't see action for the first nine games. He finally got on the field in the loss at Troy and then garnered 45 yards in seven carries against Texas State. Swain saved the best for last however, running for 93 yards in just four carries in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against Arizona State. In the fourth quarter, trailing 62-14, Navy needed a play. Swain then delivered on a 46-yard run in which he left several Sun Devil defenders in his dust.
In high school, at Mount de Sales high school in Georgia, Swain gained over 1,500 yards and scored 23 touchdowns while averaging an incredible 13.7 yards per carry. Later at the Naval Academy Prep School Swain was named the team Offensive MVP.
Junior Quinton Singleton (6-0, 204) and Sophomore Quentin Ezell (6-1, 210) also had fine springs. Neither had a carry in 2012 but that should change in upcoming season.
Singleton has good speed and ran for over 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior at Scott's Branch high school in South Carolina. He played as the backup fullback at the Prep School 2010.
Ezell, who finished just behind Singleton in the competition for the third string position, is another local star who found his way to the academy. At Walkersville high school Ezell ran for 1,789 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior. Service Academy football analyst Jim Lawler wrote about Ezell last year.
"Ezell is a punishing, bull-dozer style running back who is very hard to tackle on initial contact," wrote Lawler. "He is quick off his mark and can accelerate in the hole. He attacks defenders with his north-south, physical style of play."
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