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 COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -Recruited by Maryland as a fullback, Jeremy Navarre needed only a few weeks to realize he would be better suited making tackles rather than being tackled.
``I assumed I was going to be redshirted, so that's why I wanted to play defense. To have fun,'' Navarre recalled Tuesday.
The decision not only worked out for the Terrapins, but it just might enable Navarre to play in the NFL. Since that time, he has played in 37 straight games - including 35 starts, most on the team. He enters his senior season as one of the Terrapins' best defensive linemen.
``I didn't know I would pick it up that well, playing on the defensive side of the ball, but it worked out well,'' he said. ``I'm grateful for it. It's going to help me out later on in my career.''
Navarre played defense and fullback at Joppatowne High School in Maryland. After committing to the Terrapins, he participated in spring practice in the backfield. But when he returned in the summer, Navarre insisted on meeting with coach Ralph Friedgen to request a position change.
``I tried to tell him we really needed a fullback and we had a lot of defensive ends,'' Friedgen said. ``He said, 'I don't care. I want to play defensive end.' In two weeks he was a starter at defensive end, and he's been a starter for four straight years.''
Navarre came to Maryland weighing 245 pounds. He immediately dropped 15 pounds because of the intense workouts, but now he's at 270. After playing defensive end for three seasons, he will play tackle in the opener Saturday against Delaware - even though he inquired about supplementing his workload on the other side of the line.
``He was asking to go over to the offense on goal line (situations),'' Friedgen said. ``I told him he had his chance.''
A year ago, Navarre started all 13 games. He tied for second on the team with 5 1/2 sacks, forced two fumbles and finished with 41 tackles.
Navarre should fare even better as a tackle, because he's quicker than most offensive linemen and has plenty of experience.
``He gets better every year. He's gotten better, bigger, stronger faster,'' Terps offensive tackle Dane Randolph said. ``He's a tough opponent. When the time comes, he's definitely going to be able to perform. He's going to cause a lot of havoc out there.''
Navarre would run through a wall to make a tackle, but off the field he would rather kick back in his room than get crazy with his teammates.
``He's just a laid-back guy. He's cool, easy to get along with,'' linebacker Chase Bullock said. ``I like to hang with him sometimes when I get a chance. He's a good guy.''
And a heck of a football player.
``I'd like to have 22 Jeremy Navarres. He comes out, doesn't say a whole lot, lines up every play and plays as hard as he possibly can,'' Friedgen said. ``He's a tough guy, a tremendous competitor.''

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