Success At Georgia Tech Began At South Carroll

Lineman Credits Carroll Program With His Foundation

October 14, 1990|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff writer

In his high school days at South Carroll, Mike Mooney was a county doubles champion in tennis, started on the varsity basketball team and oh, yes, was an All-Tri-State football player.

Today, Mooney is concentrating on just one of those sports -- football -- and he's doing it in a big way.

Mooney, a 6-foot-7, 315-pound junior, is a starting offensive tackle for nationally ranked Georgia Tech.

"It's really exciting winning at this level," Mooney said noting the major difference between Division I college football and high school.

"The players are much bigger, faster and stronger here and there is much more intensity," he said, "The games are also much more magnified at the big college level."

Mooney credits the solid South Carroll program and coach Ken Parker as a foundation to his success at the college level. Parker is just proud to have one of his players playing in a big college program.

"Mike's just a tremendous athlete. Besides football, he was an exceptional basketball player and also played tennis at South Carroll," Parker said.

"He has a lot of size and quickness and showed great potential in high school. It was just a matter of him better developing his skills in football and he has done that at Georgia Tech."

Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross first came across Mooney through Parker, a long-time friend.

"I first saw him at a football camp at (the University of) Maryland," Ross said. "Almost immediately you could see he was a good athlete. He showed good feet for such a big guy."

After redshirting his first year, in 1987, Mooney started one game and saw time in seven others the following year, then started in six games last year after being suspended from spring practice for his part in an altercation in an Atlanta bar.

This year, Mooney has blossomed into one of Ross' best offensive lineman.

"Right now he's our most consistent guy up front," Ross said. "There is no element of his game that isn't solid.

"He can effectively run-block and also pass-block. He also is a very intelligent football player who is versatile in that he can play either side of the offensive line."

Last week, Mooney displayed his talents in front of his home crowd as the Yellow Jackets routed Maryland, 31-3.

The victory improved their record to 4-0 and an 18th-place ranking in the AP poll prior to yesterday's matchup against ACC rival Clemson.

One concern Mooney must continually deal with is controlling his weight.

"I play best when I'm between 315-320 pounds, and I'm at around 315 right now and haven't had much problems with my weight playing so much," Mooney said.

Ross also emphasized Mooney's need to control his weight.

"If he is going to achieve, he must continue to deal with his weight.

It's a never-ending struggle for Mike," Ross said, referring to Mooney's chances of playing professionally.

"Mike has come as far with this program as anybody I've coached. The game is very important to him and there's no doubt, with his size and foot movement, the pros will take a look at him," Ross said.

All the talk of a professional career doesn't effect Mooney much right now. Clemson, Virginia and other ACC rivals are more on his mind these days.

"Everything is going very well right now -- both with football and academically," the management major said. "I'm not thinking much about the pros. My feeling is if I play well and continue to improve, all that will fall into place."

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