Jason Tomlinson: Navy's Iron Man

Just call him Iron Man. Navy senior wide receiver Jason Tomlinson has never missed a game in high school or college. And Tomlinson doesn't plan on missing any time during what is expected to be another successful Navy season.

"I've never been one to sit out," Tomlinson says. "I've been like that my whole life. I always like to be on the field."

Mention the term Iron Man around Maryland and folks think about former Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken Jr. We're not putting Tomlinson in Cal's category, but J.T. deserves credit.

He was called up to the Kennedale (Texas) High varsity team for the last game of the season as a freshman. Tomlinson played the final three years at Kennedale without missing a game and has competed in 37 straight games in his first three years at Navy.

"I wouldn't go that far," laughs Tomlinson at the Ripken comparison. "I just have been able to push through every day. You just have to work hard."

There have been nagging injuries along the way, like shin splints and hip flexors. It will take a lot more than that to stop Tomlinson from his selfless job.

It's every wide receivers dream to be in a West Coast offense, where he's routinely putting up 10-catch games with big yards and jaunts to the end zone. Tomlinson is no different.

Still, Tomlinson has embraced his role at Navy: Block, block, block. He's done a great job and has helped the Midshipmen's high-powered triple-option offense roll over opponents the past three years.

Tomlinson can make a good grab when needed. He led Navy with 25 catches for 445 yards with a touchdown last season.

Tomlinson has worked on improving his speed during the offseason (he's dying to go deep). But, of course, he's also working on his blocking.

"I just want to keep improving," Tomlinson says. "Whatever they need me to do, block, whatever. Whatever it takes."

Just call him Iron Man.

Extra points: East Carolina, which Navy hosts in its season-opener on Sept. 2, begins preseason camp on Aug. 3 ... The Pirates, who went 5-6 under coach Skip Holtz, return an experienced quarterback in senior James Pinkney ... Pinkney has made 25 consecutive starts, which is fourth in the nation behind Houston's Kevin Kolb, Notre Dame's Brady Quinn and Chris Leak of Florida ... Look for Pinkney to go up top to wide receiver Aundrae Allison. Allison, a junior college transfer, last season became the first East Carolina player to rack up 1,000 yards in his first season. He is a candidate for the Fred Bilietnikoff award - given each year to the best wide receivers in college ... Navy piles up points with the run. East Carolina likes to pass. Can you say shootout? Could be. The last time Navy coach Paul Johnson and Holtz met was in 1998. Johnson led Georgia Southern to a 52-30 win over Holtz and Connecticut in a Division I-AA playoff game.


Navy's Jason Tomlinson (87) makes a reception over Rutgers' Derrick Roberson (11)(AP/Tim Larsen)

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