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Spring practice gets underway

The Navy football team began spring practice today with enthusiasm clearly outweighing an otherwise dreary afternoon at Rip Miller Field in Annapolis.

The team went through roughly two hours of drills wearing helmets, jerseys and shorts but no pads. Today's practice was the first of 15 Navy will conduct during the spring.

Expectations rarely have been higher at Navy, which is coming off a 10-4 season capped by a 35-13 victory over Missouri in the Texas Bowl. The Midshipmen won four of their final five games, including 23-21 over Notre Dame, and have back a host of starters.

None is more important than quarterback Ricky Dobbs, who accounted for 33 touchdowns last season. The senior ran for 1,203 yards and a school-record 27 touchdowns.

Navy, which ranked third last season in rushing at 280.9 yards per game, also has back its second and third leading rushers from last season. Fullback Vince Murray rushed for 971 yards on 182 carries (5.3 yards per carry) with six touchdowns, and slotback Marcus Curry had 585 yards and five touchdowns on 80 rushes for an average of 7.3 yards per carry.

The defense finished 34th overall, yielding 335.2 yards per game, and has back one of the main cogs in safety Wyatt Middleton, who is a co-captain with Dobbs. Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo had high praise for the junior during a conversation last week.

Middleton was part of a unit that most important ranked 18th in scoring defense, surrendering 19.4 points per game. The Midshipmen also ranked 31st in rushing defense at 122.1 rushing yards per game.

Check back later for updates and videos of players and coaches.

By Gene Wang  |  March 29, 2010; 5:19 PM ET
 | Tags: Navy football, Ricky Dobbs  
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