CHRIS MCCOY NAVY'S SMALL-TOWN SENSATION

December 08, 1997

Chris McCoy doesn't mind the kidding he takes about his tiny
hometown of Morris, Ga. (pop. 850). "There's a post office and a
general store with two gas pumps, and that's it," he says,
grinning. The nearest movie theater? "Sixty miles away." McCoy's
directions to his family's home: Take the dirt road out of
Morris, make a right, make a left, pass a big tree, take another
left and drive through a two-foot-deep creek--and then you're
getting close. "We used to tease Chris that they didn't get
Monday-night football out there until Thursday," says Jim
McFather, who was an assistant coach at Randolph-Clay High when
McCoy played there.

McCoy indeed came out of nowhere on Sept. 9, 1995, when as a
sophomore quarterback making his first start for Navy, he gained
a Middies-record 398 yards in total offense against SMU,
including 273 yards rushing. Since then, his ability to run
Navy's option attack has been no secret. He finished the '95
season with 803 yards rushing and ran for 1,228 in '96. This
year McCoy, a 5'10" 190-pounder, became only the ninth collegian
to surpass 1,000 yards rushing (1,165) and passing (1,129) in
the same season.

Entering Saturday's Army-Navy game, McCoy owns Middies career
marks for total offense (5,608) and rushing touchdowns (40).
Under his direction, Navy (6-4) has had back-to-back winning
seasons for the first time since 1981 and '82.

Surprisingly, McCoy almost didn't make it out of Georgia. In the
spring of 1993 Randolph-Clay principal Jackie Hammond sent tapes
of McCoy's best games to an assistant coach at Navy he had
contacted on a whim. After weeks went by without word from the
Middies, McCoy was ready to sign with Division II Albany (Ga.)
State, the only school that had recruited him. In fact, Chris;
his mother, Rosie; and Hammond were meeting with an Albany State
coach in preparation for Chris's signing with the Golden Rams
when a secretary hurried in with a message: "Mr. Hammond,
there's a coach from Navy on the line for you."

Hammond yelped, "Hold everything!" and took the call. The
Middies wanted to sign McCoy. "All I could do was tell Albany
State I was sorry," McCoy says.

He spent his plebe season as a junior-varsity defensive back but
got another break when Charlie Weatherbie was named Navy coach
in 1995 and declared all starting positions open. McCoy
auditioned for quarterback and won the job.

Despite Navy's success the last three seasons--a 20-13 record,
including 9-3 in 1996, Annapolis's best mark in 18 years--the
Middies are still looking for their first win over Army since
'91. "More than the individual records," McCoy says, "what means
the most to me was I was here when Navy football began to turn
around."

The folks in Morris and environs have followed McCoy closely. He
has been given the key to Cuthbert, the largest town within 15
miles of Morris, and he'll be the grand marshal of this year's
Christmas parade in nearby Fort Gaines. Including Saturday,
local radio station WCUG will have broadcast six Navy games this
year. "Now," McFather says, "you walk into a store here on
Saturday and everyone is listening to Chris's games."

McCoy plans to specialize in surface warfare upon receiving his
commission this spring, and as the old Navy recruiting slogan
promised, he'll see the world. It's just another large step for
the rural Georgian who, when asked to name the hardest thing he
had to adjust to upon arriving in Annapolis, pauses, then
replies, "Uh...people?"

--JOHNETTE HOWARD

COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUND [Chris McCoy in game]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)